Series: Lisa and Pat Series 2 #3
Chapters: 001 Word Count: 41529
Character(s): Josh Lyman, Donna Moss, Jed Bartlet, Abbey Bartlet, Toby Ziegler, CJ Cregg, Charlie Young, Zoey Bartlet, Sam Seaborn, Ainsley Hayes, Ensemble
Pairing(s): Josh/Donna, Toby/CJ, Sam/Ainsley, Jed/Abbey, Charlie/Zoey
Summary: The third installment in series 2
Author Notes: The third installment in series 2
La Nouvelle Orleans La Nouvelle Orleans
"That's Donna screaming I know it," Josh gasped. "Donna? DONNA?" He leaped from his chair at the same time the Agents drew weapons and surrounded the first family. Josh ignored their attempt to contain him and pushed past, going in the direction Donna had. He screamed her name once more, terror clutching his heart.
"A rat Josh! Look a really, really big rat!" Donna continued to scream from where she was now standing on a chair. Too much motion as the rat scurried towards the chair and she began to topple backwards. She grabbed onto the chair for dear life and the sight of Donna 18 weeks pregnant with triplets perched up on a chair was almost humorous as she continued to squeal.
By now a couple of the agents had followed him out, their weapons still out. "Don't just stand there, shoot that thing," he shouted, frantically reaching for Donna to steady her before she could fall.
"Sir that's an unauthorized discharge," the one agent said. "Not if we're being attacked," the other one announced and with a single shot, dispatched it to rat heaven. "And you all saw that, I was in fear of my life."
"Now on his third stroke, Joshua Lyman reaches for fiancée," Josh intoned as the rest of the agents, having heard the shot, came running. It was fully fifteen minutes before order was restored, the mess cleaned up, and Donna was still on the chair.
"Oh that horrid, retched little thing," Donna said with a note of disgust. Then she looked, "Um guys...hey somebody....umm....I can't get down from here....my ankles are starting to swell...uh guys?"
"Why do you think I've been standing here with my arms out to you?" Josh demanded. "I'm not practicing for the circus, now get off there. Put your hands on my shoulders to steady yourself and I've got you. Jump into my arms. You know I'll catch you."
"Catch me? Jump? Josh I'm four months pregnant!" Donna squealed, "and I'm afraid of small heights."
Josh slid a chair over next to hers and climbed aboard. "OK now we're both up here. And anyway, for someone so afraid of heights, how did you get up here anyway? That didn't occur to you before you leaped up here?"
"I'm okay with chairs and stepladders and such so long as I get up and down without looking down, but I looked down at the rat and then..." Donna clung to Josh. "I hate rats!"
"Could we have a stepstool here please," Josh begged, holding tightly to her. "Now don't wiggle around up here and fall off. You hate rats huh. Gee I can't imagine why. I thought we were going to have one as a pet. Lord knows DC is full of them."
"Sir." The step stool appeared along with Sam. "Sam thank god," Josh breathed. "OK I'm going to hold her from up here, and you steady her going down. Easy honey."
"Thank you sweetie," Sam teased.
Donna was finally gotten back down to the ground where she immediately checked for rats. She was relieved that there were none and then turned to Josh. "This doesn't get you out of the doghouse."
"I know," Josh smiled. "I was trying to shut you out and that was wrong. Come on, let's go back to the hotel, take the elevator to the roof garden. Fresh air, the city and the river, and I have something I need to do anyway."
Donna smiled and nodded and that's just what they did. They loaded up the limos and went back to the hotel. As soon as Donna had refreshed herself she put her hand in Josh's to let him lead her to the roof.
"First I need to apologize for earlier," he said quietly, taking her hand and bringing it to his lips. "Of course you're concerned, and no I should not have asked you to stay home. The last thing I want to see when they put me under, and the first thing when I wake up, is your beautiful face."
Donna smiled. "I was afraid for a minute there that you...that you didn't want me or thought I was bad luck or something. You don't think I'm bad luck do you Josh?" Donna said in her typical fashion.
"Yes it's your fault I got shot in the first place" he scoffed and shook his head. "Donnatella you are the best thing that's happened to me. Bad luck, no way. And I decided I didn't want to wait any longer. I haven't mentioned it to the others, except for Sam and Ainsley and CJ and Toby no one else knows." He slipped the ring from his pocket and unwrapped the tissue. The diamond at once picked up the sparkle of the lights. Dropping to one knee as Toby had done, he kissed her hand and slipped the ring on. "I love you angel, and I want us to be married as soon as you're ready."
Donna looked down at the ring and began to tremble, tears coming to her eyes. "Oh Josh it's beautiful...and you're serious. God I never thought the day would come. Yes I'll marry you."
"I was sure you were going to say yes--I mean you let me buy the ring--but then I still had that little bitty doubt because I can be such an ass at times." He stood up and wrapped her into his warm embrace against the chill night air. "I love you so much Donnatella Jolie Moss. And these babies are just making me love you that much more. Thank god you took matters into your own hands and didn't wait for me."
Donna smiled, "I would have raised them myself if I needed to. At least I would have had a part of you and I could have been a mother even if I wasn't a wife. It would have been kind of funny if you hadn't found out they were yours until I went into labor though....Well okay not that funny but..."
"No not funny," he said soberly, "but if there was no father in the picture, I would have been by your side no matter what the circumstances. I have no doubt you could have raised them yourself and even given birth alone, but I wouldn't have let you. You my love have been a major part of my life since day one."
"Since I came and slept on your floor and answered your phone? Oh don't tell me I have to do that this campaign...." she whined in typical Donna fashion.
"You are going to be married to the deputy chair of the Committee to Re-Elect," Josh grinned. "I think that entitles you to more than floor sleeping privileges, especially since you are also going to have given birth to his triplets by then."
Donna smiled, "I wonder if the bus is ready to handle little ones being drug all over the country. Of course I'm sure Sam and Ainsley will come with theirs."
"Actually I was thinking more of a motor home for us and them" Josh spoke up. "One of those big jobs and if we go halves it won't be that expensive. Sam and I can take turns driving and you and Ainsley can share the baby care. Then there's no press to worry about either, and Leo and Toby can't be down our necks constantly about one thing or another. We'll just turn off the cell phones."
"Oh..." Donna said, "can we do that?" She smiled. "It sounds like a really good idea actually."
"Sam and I have mentioned it a couple times actually. No reason why a motor home can't be part of the motorcade. The Service is already freaking over the idea of the President on a bus, but he's determined to repeat his first campaign swing. Do you remember that? That old bus that kept breaking down. I sure did become an expert on changing bus tires that year though."
Donna smiled, "I'm sure you won't have to do that this time. I just hope we can get him reelected. I mean what happens if we don't?" Donna said and her whole mood seemed to change.
"Then we bid each other goodbye--not each other as in you and me of course--but Toby and CJ and Sam and Ainsley all--and we get on with the lives we started before the first campaign. But you know me--losing isn't an option I'm considering."
Donna kissed him. "Come on I have something to do."
Meanwhile Chloe went immediately back to her computer project. She was vigerously researching something about babies because that word appeared frequently in the article even from a glance. Upon closer look she was researching how best to concieve.
Tucker dropped onto the bed behind her, reading the title page of the website. "I hope that mentions somewhere a man is needed, because anything else is not going to make it," he teased. "And not just any man--yours I'm talking about. Me in other words."
Chloe looked back at him. "It's talking about how you can use gravity to your advantage and then it's talking about temperatures and other things that might help."
"Gravity huh. OK, we get one of those reclining weight benches and you lay with your head down and I stand..." Her look told him he had the wrong idea. "OK what then?"
"Like this," Chloe said gently and she demonstrated the pillow technique, "or this..." and she showed him how to curl her into his arms keeping her bottom end definitely up. "They say it can drastically improve your chances..."
"OK, as long as all this comes after," Tucker smiled, "after the fun I mean." His arms went under her and he pulled her even closer, kissing her longingly. "I love you Angel, and this waiting is killing me."
Chloe smiled, "Today is Wednesday, next Friday we'll be married." She kissed him. "I love you and I thank God each day that you came into my life."
"I can do that," Tucker sighed. "I can keep my hormones in check that long. You remember the first time? We were both so scared, and yet it was so wonderful and I so loved you."
"I was so worried I'd get pregnant and then I was so sorry when I didn't and I've wanted your baby ever since. Mom and Aunt Abbey and the other women and I were talking about it at the park."
"I wanted you to have my baby since that time too." Tucker admitted. "Well maybe not at first, but once I got over the shock of everything, and realized how much in love we really were, then I thought only a baby could make it better; but now I'm kind of glad we've waited. On our wedding night I am going to show you with every fiber of my being how much I love you, and then I'm going to give you a baby to grow."
Chloe smiled and kissed him, "I can't think of a better present..." She kissed him again. "I love you so very much. You know I'm kind of sad all the wedding planning is over. That was fun."
Tucker grinned and hugged her tightly. "More fun than baby planning? Leo promised to add onto the house and that we'd get our own suite after we were married if I'd help with the inside work so your good taste is going to have to come in there. I can hang wall paper as long as I don't have to pick it out first."
Chloe laughed lightly, "Actually I wanted to paint...you can move furniture though and hook up electronics, and we can get a movie-entertainment room with surround sound piped in our wing so we can play music wherever we want..." She mused. "and no wedding planning won't be as fun as baby planning I'm sure. Of course you'll have to help me because I'm going to get huge. I'll look like I swallowed a beach ball." she smiled.
"I'm counting on that," Tucker smiled. "When Zoey did and then Gina, I thought they looked incredibly alive and healthy, and then Charlie and Lucas were so proud and happy. "I hope I take as good care of you as they did."
"Of course you will..." Chloe tried to reassure him, "you already take good care of me. I know that you're going to be a wonderful loving husband and a devoted father to all of our children." She kissed him. "It makes me love you even more. You know...we have that huge tub for like five in our bathroom in there...it would be a shame to waste it..."
"Why Ms. Madison-McGarry soon to be Seaborn, are you inviting me to join you in a warm tub of scented water where we shall hold each other, skin to skin, and maybe kiss and tell each other how in love we are?"
"Yes, I do believe that's what I just did," Chloe smiled, "and it sounds even better the way you say it." She took his hand and led him into the bathroom.
CJ had been sent down by Leo to have a meeting with one of the representative's in the hotel bar four hours ago and she had not come back yet.
"Leo what the hell's going on here," Toby sputtered into the phone. "I haven't seen CJ in hours. She supposedly went downstairs to meet with god knows who, and I lost track of time, but she's not back, and...of course I looked. Unless they're wearing a cloak of invisibility, they're not down there. Give me a clue because I'm about to lose it here."
Just then Toby heard some people passing by the downstairs phone he was on and talking about a woman that had just fallen over into the koi pond in the lobby, evening gown and all.
"Leo I think I know where she is," Toby gasped, dropping the phone and taking off running. He was right. Her reputation had earned another notch.
CJ was thrashing about in the lobby koi pond. Finally dragging herself out of the pond she staggered and weaved over to Toby. "Oh there you are...hey you're late for drinks..." she said sounding like she had bathed in the stuff.
"Sorry, prior engagement," Toby frowned. "CJ are you...never mind. Let's get you upstairs. You are ready to go up I trust?" He was not able to keep the sarcasm from his voice.
CJ looked at him and then had to grab onto him to keep from falling over. "Oh sure...you know...you know I think there was something in that second glass of wine..." She was about to fall backwards into the pond again.
Toby's arm shot out and went around her tightly, ignoring that she soaked him when he pulled her against him to support her for the trip upstairs. Once inside the room he began to strip her from her wet things not saying a word further.
CJ in her stooper simply lay there and let Toby do whatever it was he had a mind to do. "I think I'm going to be sick," she said about twelve minutes later.
"I'm not surprised," Toby told her, helping her to the toilet, "and while you're being sick and regretful for this, let me ask you what you were thinking? Specifically--my god CJ, what if you're pregnant? What if you've just drank all that liquor and you've got a tiny embryo trying to take hold inside you? You know alcohol is toxic to a fetus as well as I do."
"I had...two glasses...of wine," CJ said very slowly and as clear as possible. "I think...there's something wrong," she added in between being ill. Then the rest of his words hit her and all she could do was groan sorrowfully, "oh God..."
"You could not be this messed up on two glasses of wine," Toby growled, "you must have lost track and had more. I mean I've seen you drink four at a State Dinner and be just as lucid as ever. Unless..." He gave her a look of horror, "CJ you think...you think something was in the drink, a drug like GHB or Ecstasy maybe?"
CJ looked up at him, her pupils oddly dilated and she barely nodded before she was ill again. She held up two fingers, "I drinked two Toby...two. I really don't feel good..." She reached a hand out and grabbed his wrist.
"OK, honey, OK, I'm going to get you some help." Toby grabbed hold of her and the phone at the same time, demanding that a full paramedic response be sent to their room, then quickly guided her into the bathroom, this time sticking his finger into her throat, now wanting her to relieve herself of anything in her stomach. "I'm going to call Abbey as soon as I can leave you to meet the paramedics here," he told her softly, holding her head as his finger technique produced the desired results.
CJ continued to throw up whatever was in her stomach. When she had finished throwing up she laid her head weakly on the toilet. "Go..." she waved her hand at him. "Go, Abbey, go..."
"First I'm getting you into bed, and then I'll get Abbey," he told her, lifting her into his arms and carrying her to the bed. Sitting close to her he brushed his hand into her hair and pressed his lips to her forehead as he hit the speed dial of his cell phone. "It's Toby. Please. I need Mrs. Bartlet in my room immediately. It's an emergency, a bad one."
She reached for her shirt and he stayed her hands. "No, allow me." And with that he gently removed her clothing, stopping now and then to kiss where he had uncovered. "My beautiful almost bride," he breathed.
Chloe smiled and blushed softly. "I can't wait until our wedding." She watched as he slowly and gently one by one removed all of her items of clothing. "That was nice..." she leaned in and kissed him passionately. "You have that down so good why don't you do yourself too," she teased.
"I don't need much persuading in that area," he smiled and slid out of his things as she watched, and then he helped her into the tub. The orange scented water rose up around them and with her in his arms, they sank as far as they could.
"This is nice," Chloe said appreciatively, "this all feels a million miles away from highschool."
"I haven't been a high school kid for a long time now," Tucker agreed. "We passed that a while back. We've lived and died a hundred lifetimes this past year since we've met so much has happened. Now I'm ready for what's ahead--you and I, a wedding, a baby. It's all ahead of us."
Chloe smiled, "and I'm looking forward to it...our life together." She kissed him and cuddled further down into the bubbles.
"Mr. and Mrs.Tucker Daniel Seaborn" he grinned happily. "You're going to be a beautiful bride, even though you won't let me get a look at your dress."
"That's bad luck!" Chloe gawked and turned around to look at him. "The groom is never supposed to see the bride's dress before the wedding!"
"Your mom said I would faint when I saw you in it. I figured that was OK because I'm probably going to do that anyway. The President is going to officiate at our wedding. I still can't get over that."
Chloe smiled, "I know, how many people can say they were married by the President of the United States. Then how many people can say that they were 18 and married by the President of the United States whom they knew personally."
"Only one that I know of, besides me," Tucker smiled, adjusting her so that she was laying on her stomach across his chest and rubbing her back, letting water wash across her. "Well I may not know about your dress, but you don't know about the honeymoon."
Chloe looked up and pouted at him. "That's not fair bringing that up! I know I can't know about the honeymoon but that's unnecessary teasing..."
"Yes I know, but I never claimed to fight fair," Tucker laughed and tickled her sides, causing the water to slosh greatly in the tub. Tucker tickled her more and swiftly rolled so that she was on the bottom, giving her a quick dunking before lifting her back into his arms. "Darn you're breathing," he laughed again, "I was hoping you'd need mouth to mouth."
Chloe spit a mouth full of water on him and laughed, "That'll teach you!" She giggled as he tickled her again.
"No this will teach you," Tucker corrected, pressing his body to hers and then bringing his mouth down onto hers, his tongue begging entrance, sweeping across her full lips.
Chloe gasped and instantly the mood changed and she moaned softly, contentedly.
"On our wedding night I'm going to be doing a lot more than this," Tucker whispered, his voice thick with want, and he tenderly pressed up against her, letting her know how much he desired her.
"Ma'am, It's Toby Zeigler. He says he needs you in his room badly, something about a medical emergency," Bonnie said as she stepped into the sitting room where Jed and Abbey were watching TV. Abbey was up immediately, "oh God." she gasped praying half aloud and half silently that she would be able to fix whatever the problem was.
CJ was holding Toby's wrist fearfully by the time there was a knock at their door down the hall from the president.
"OK honey, let me get the door," Toby urged, taking his arm from her grasp.
"Oh thank you for coming. I have paramedics on the way too. I'm scared out of my mind here." Toby stepped aside to let Abbey in. "Ma'am she had two glasses of wine she said, but this is wrong. She's sick and out of it and I'm scared and please help her."
Abbey walked over to her, took one look at her and gasped. "She's been drugged. Who was she with? Who did this?" Abbey took a closer look and checked CJ's pulse. "I think it was GHB. Whoever did this should be hurt. How long before the paramedics get here do you estimate?" Abbey asked urgently, obviously worried for CJ.
Toby ran a hand over the top of his head. "They were on their way the desk clerk promised me. Oh CJ, what can we do for her? I've made her puke, but she needs an antidote for it doesn't she? And Abbey, she could be pregnant."
"Let's hope she's not," Abbey sighed, "someone needs to inform Leo." About that time the paramedics arrived and were allowed in with a couple of service members present. They examined CJ and one pulled out a syringe from their med kits after Abbey had rattled off the stats. "She's going to be okay," One told Toby a couple of minutes later. "I believe she only has enough from half a pill in her system. This should counteract the effect in an hour or less. Keep her well hydrated all night to flush the rest of it out of her." They checked CJ again, who had some returning color to her and after ascertaining that she was recovering they left.
Leo and Jed burst through the door as they were leaving with the Service behind them. "Please guys," Toby begged, "just you guys OK...uh Mr. President I mean. I'm sorry, I'm about to lose it here."
"How is she Abbey?" Jed asked, dropping a hand on her shoulder.
"Someone slipped her GHB," Abbey sighed, "It's in her blood but fortunately Toby made her throw up most of it out of her system. She's been given an antidote and she seems to be responding."
"Abbey, Abbey...what about the baby?" Toby croaked out. "I mean if..." He was sitting next to her, stroking her forehead as he spoke.
Abbey sighed, "let's hope she wasn't pregnant Toby. The results of that on an embryo..." she shook her head. "There's a reason that drug is a threat to society..."
"Oh god, oh god," Toby gasped, turning pale. "Do you think we caught it in time? What can we do?" CJ stirred and opened her eyes, and he leaned down and kissed her. "Honey, you're OK. Abbey says you're going to be OK."
"Kessler..." CJ said groggily. "Damn him!" Leo swore pounding his fist into his hand, "what in the hell did he pull something like this for?!" CJ looked up at Toby and smiled softly, "You look better than the last time I saw you..."
"So do you angel, so do you," Toby sighed, kissing her cheek. "You're going to be OK. I love you. Kessler did this to you? Why sweetheart, why would he do this thing to you?"
"The folder," Leo suddenly looked around, "the reports." "I kept them with me the whole time Leo..." CJ said. "That's it," Leo said and he turned and slammed his fist against the wall, "damn him. He did this for the reports in that folder. He drugged CJ and made off with them. That dirty rat...I ought to..." Leo said getting very angry.
"I'll kill him," Toby said, his tone that same quiet way he always spoke, but his intent was deadly serious. "No one is killing anyone," Jed spoke up. "But CJ is going to have to file charges. Or I'll simply confront the man myself and ask for our information back, and then we'll hold a press conference and tell what he's done."
"Better idea," Leo said and then after a moment he looked at Jed and said solemnly, "he was going to use that information and try to run himself. We're not going to let him have it, not like that, not with what he's done to CJ."
"I think it would be sweet justice if we told him I want to see him, and we have him come to a room, and when he walks in, the press are already gathered, and then we confront him. CJ when you're feeling up to it that is," Jed said slowly, rubbing his hands together. "Yep I think that would be the thing to do. And then let him see what kind of a political career he can salvage."
CJ nodded, "Yes sir. It would be my pleasure sir." She smiled proud of her President for whom she served. She held fast to Toby's hand and then looked at him. "I'm sure this doesn't sound too good at the moment but...could I have a drink?--I mean as in water or juice..."
"Of course," He kissed her hand and quickly returned with a glass of pineapple juice from the room's refrigerator. "Here honey, drink this while we plot revenge." He held the cup to her lips.
"But it doesn't take care of if there was a baby hurt," Leo sighed, thinking of Caroline and how she wanted another pregnancy.
"And I don't want it to," Toby said quietly, "because vengeance for that belongs to me. If he's hurt our baby--if there is one--he'll regret the day he came near her."
CJ looked up at Toby and a moment of seriousness passed between them. She hadn't even thought about the possibility that she could be pregnant tonight. If anyone was at blame for that shouldn't it be her? She had to admire the determination in his eyes though; a fierce protection over her that she had never known. Halfway through her glass of juice she moved to sit up. "God, I should have known," she said still agonizing over the situation.
"Whatever happens we'll deal with it," Toby assured her, pressing her forehead to his chest and rubbing the back of her head. "You're not alone now, and you won't be ever. Right now the important thing is that you recover from what happened, and that you know I love you." He gave a small smile then, amazing himself at how easy it was to say that despite the presence of the President and First Lady.
"I love you Toby," CJ replied. "I love you and I'm sorry especially if...well if I am pregnant and..."
"If you are and the baby is hurt, then Kessler is going to be one sorry miserable SOB," Toby finished for her. "And in that event--the worst case--we'll simply have to deal with it, and try again. But it's not your fault. You didn't think about a baby. I mean it's not something we talk about; and I seriously doubt wine alone in that small amount would hurt anyway, long odds against it in any case." He stroked the side of her face with his fingertips. "You just rest now, because we're going to plan a real surprise for Mr. Kessler and anyone else who was in on the planning of this little escapade."
CJ smiled softly at him and then laid back to rest. An angry Leo and an equally angry and upset Jed were followed out of the room by a distraught Abbey. "Hey what's going on?" Ainsley asked as she and Sam stood in the open doorway of their room next to CJ and Toby's, the wall on which Leo had been ramming his fist.
"Our friend Kessler drugged CJ's drink," Leo said through gritted teeth. "She's OK, thanks to quick thinking by Toby. The paramedics treated her and she's recovering, but she's concerned that if she's pregnant, it could have hurt the baby." Caroline was coming up, having settled the twins and Leo with Chloe, and her eyes went wide, her hand to her belly. "So what are we going to do about all this?"
"We're going to show him you don't fight dirty in this campaign and certainly not against a woman, especially one that could be pregnant," Leo replied wrapping an arm around Caroline's waist the most comfort he could offer at the moment.
"All right," Sam enthused at once. "When do we start, and how, and what can I do to help?"
"Senior staff meeting, one hour, my suite" Jed said decisively. "Find Tucker and Chloe too. Hopefully Toby will be able to bring CJ. And I want Charlie and I guess that means Zoey, but that's OK. Let's do it."
Everyone nodded and soon there was a lot of knocking on doors for notification. "What's going on?" CJ asked Toby halfway sitting up in alarm.
"The president wants to meet with everyone in an hour," he explained. "We're going to decide exactly how we're going to settle Mr. Kessler's hash, and he wants you there if you feel up to it."
CJ nodded. “Think I could get something to eat before that and some more juice. Goodness it's eleven-thirty at night central time!"
"Oh you're so right," Toby nodded. "You call room service and order what you want. You know what, I doubt serious the President even noticed the time. I think this might be better slept on. We need the press anyway, and I'm sure most of them are too drunk or too sleepy to understand what we're going to do."
At the same time, Jed was having the same thought. "Leo you didn't tell me it was so late here. You know I don't look at the time when I get going. Senior staff meeting is hereby changed to a breakfast gathering in a room to be determined by Charlie in the morning at 8AM. Good night."
There was more knocking on the doors and the time was changed. Then everyone curled up to go to sleep.
It was a few hours later when Josh moved and realized there was no Donna to move against. "Donna?" She was standing at the big window, staring out to the city lights and then the river beyond. "If you're going to jump, the roof will work better," he teased softly, getting up to join her. Realizing she was trembling, he grabbed up the blanket from the end of the bed and pressed it around her shoulders. "What happened earlier unnerved you more than you would let on to me didn't it?" he asked gently.
"What if it had been me?" Donna said softly, "what if it was our babies? or what if it was Ainsley, or Mrs. Bartlet? What if CJ is pregnant? How will...they'll never get through."
"I don't think they're letting themselves think about that," Josh said softly. "I don't want to think about it. CJ is vulnerable in her position no doubt, but I guess it could have happened to any of you. One thing that's different is that you and Ainsley and Mrs. Bartlet know you're pregnant and you're very careful about what you eat and drink. CJ didn't much think about it I guess. I know she will now though. But you standing here getting pneumonia isn't going to make it better." He rested a hand on the growing baby belly. "If it helps, I'm scared too for them, and for you, all the time."
Donna smiled softly and then went back to bed with Josh. "I want to go to church tomorrow and light a candle for CJ."
"I think that would be wonderful. I'm not real familiar with churches, but the Man upstairs looks down on all of them. You know I'm always telling myself I'm going to start back regularly at Temple. My dad never missed; but then I get busy, or tired, and I don't motivate myself. Well now maybe having you will get me in the direction of God. It doesn't have to be just in a Jewish setting." He wrapped his arms over her, resting his hands on the babies. "Be safe little ones, Mommy and Daddy love you."
Donna smiled softly and curled closer against him for sleep.
Meanwhile CJ knowing that Toby was asleep got up and walked over to the window. She looked out and laid a hand on her abdomen. 'God if there is a baby in here please save it and protect it. Punish me in any other way but that. Please don't hurt Toby like that.' She sighed and looked for consolation out over the river as she watched the tugboats still at work.
Bereft of her arms, Toby opened his eyes and saw her. "Honey it's OK," he said softly in to the darkened room. "Whatever's going to happen we're going to face it together, and I love you. You're not alone any more, not for the rest of your life."
"I just can't...I can't face the fact that I might have done something to...what if I was pregnant Toby? What if I...I'll never forgive myself if I hurt your baby tonight." CJ said softly to the window.
Toby levered himself from the bed and pressed a blanket around her. "You didn't know. And I do understand. It would be a tragedy, but it's not something that we can't surmount. I love you, and whatever is ahead of us, we're going to deal with it together. You're not facing it. We are. Besides I don't believe God would have allowed us to start a baby and then take it away from us. The God to whom I pray is not like that."
CJ smiled softly, "I don't know whether I want to hope that I'm not pregnant, or that I am carrying your baby and it's alright..."
"Well either works, because that means in about eight and a half months we're going to be parents, or the other scenario is we have a lot of work to do on that project yet and I'm going to love every minute of it." Toby gently jiggled her belly as he held her. "Is it just too early to know? Like for those test things they're always advertising, or because it's not yet time for the...time for you to have your...OK how long are you going to let me stand here and embarass myself?"
"It should have been yesterday," CJ sighed, "I'm a day late...twenty-four hours. I really don't think that's so significant..."
"OK," Toby nodded, pressing his cheek to hers. "Maybe you can talk to Abbey because I'm totally clueless here. But for right now, come back to bed. After what happened to you, you need that rest."
CJ smiled and went back to bed with Toby. She spooned up against him and went to sleep.
The next morning everyone gathered in the floor lounge where they were served an elaborate breakfast buffet. CJ had passed on the orange juice and decided gingerale was more appealing. She grabbed a couple of croissants and some strawberry jelly to go with that.
"Mr. President everyone is here," Leo reported. "We're going to be able to talk about what to do about the Kessler matter any time now." Jed nodded and looked around. "CJ this directly affected you most of all. Now what would you like to see happen here?"
"Firstly I want the file back and I want everyone to know how corrupt and low this man is. I don't want anyone thinking he needs to run the country. Secondly I want to make sure he never pulls this with any other women. In other words I want everyone to know what a scumbag he is."
"Good for you," Toby said proudly, squeezing her hand.
"CJ invite the press to one of the ballrooms for mid morning. Leo invite Mr. Kessler to join us to talk about campaign options. Tell him I don't expect to be refused. We'll have him in the room, let the press in afterward, and yes it's an ambush but it's more than he deserves."
"That's for damn sure," Toby muttered sharply.
"Anything I need to be careful of?" CJ asked, "I don't want to hurt us while sabatoging him." She squeezed Toby's hand. Then she looked to him, "can I let you in the room?"
Jed looked sharply to Toby before he could answer. "Toby, Toby I don't want any problem from you. I know how you feel. I'd like to have my hands around the man's throat myself. But that would be only fleeting pleasure. This is going to ruin the man's career. A much more fitting punishment in the long run."
"I'll behave," Toby assured him and looked to CJ. "I promise," he whispered into her ear.
"Okay how does ten-thirty sound and afterwards we can all have a nice lunch. Someone call Maesparos across from Jack's Brewery Center in the Quarters and reserve it for us for lunch. I'm in the mood for some cajun cooking." CJ said. She rose up, was a little dizzy, and grabbed the chair for support a moment. "I'm fine," she said to all those suddenly concerned, "I just got up too fast or something. Now I'm going to go change and get
ready for our meeting with the press. Leo has someone briefed Danny on the situation?"
"Not yet. Once Mr. Kessler is safely in our clutches, the press will be admitted. He's simply been told to stand by for an announcement and to keep the press handy. You know they'll be circling. In the meantime we don't want any of this to leave the room," Leo said, and his gaze rested on Tucker.
"Hey I'm good at secret keeping," he protested laughing.
"Nothing personal" Leo assured him. "In fact I think you and Chloe should issue the invite. He'll take it more as a message from the president and won't argue with you two. He won't kill the messenger in other words."
"Right," Chloe said, "We'll do. Ten-thirty?" she recieved several nods and then she took Tucker's hand and led him from the room. "Okay we have a job to do. Now how do we do it?"
"Well we've got to get ourselves admitted to his room first," Tucker smiled, pulling his White House ID from his pocket and pinning it onto his shirt. "Then we have to tell the man the president wants to meet with him. I don't think he'll refuse."
Chloe nodded and looked her appearance over once more. Her hair looked professional enough and there was no faulting her suit. They took the elevator two floors down to his suite and announced who they were and that they needed to see Kessler immediately.
The person answering the door motioned for them to wait and then brought an older woman to them. She looked down her nose at the two. "And you are?"
"Tucker Seaborn ma'am" he smiled his best smile, "and this is Chloe Madison and we intern for the White House senior staff. We have a message directly from President Barlet for Mr. Kessler."
Noise from the room's balcony distracted him and he looked past her to the hot tub. Plainly Kessler's head appeared above the water, along with those of three younger women. "Whoa Mr. Kessler has company," he whispered to Chloe, loud enough for this woman to hear. "Funny, none of them look like Mrs. Kessler."
"Mr. Kessler will be happy to meet with you," the older woman said, quickly blocking their view. "At what time?" "Ten-thirty," Chloe replied, "I hope he shall have finished his current appointment by then." The woman merely nodded and Tucker and Chloe walked professionally to the elevator. As soon as the doors closed Chloe burst out in laughter. "Who shall we tell first?! We're going to nail him. President Bartlet won't lose to him that's for sure!"
"Tell? I want to get a camera with a telephoto lense on it," Tucker laughed and then sobered quickly. "Insurance honey," he said seriously. "We take the pictures and have them ready just in case the man gives us any trouble. We don't spread it around though. No need to fight dirty unless he refuses to withdraw his name. You think Danny would get us a camera? Or even better help us? The roof garden is the perfect place for hiding and getting them."
"Exactly...it would be the perfect shot," Chloe said. "let's go. But we have to swear Danny to secrecy first. We can't let him run a story about it against CJ's approval...she'll can me for sure!" They hurried off towards Danny's room.
It was a barely awake Danny who opened the door, with Brittany moaning on the bed about being woke up. "Business honey," he called and opened the door for them. "You two look very official," he smiled. "What's up and can I quote you?"
"Not a chance. We need you to do us a favor," Chloe said and then she noticed a very pregnant Brittany. "Hey I didn't know she could still travel. Anyhow, we need you to do us a favor off the record Danny. Please, for us and for President Bartlet and especially for CJ."
"Come in guys. OK you're off the record now and that's a promise, but I get first crack at whatever's going down after. An exclusive plus a thirty minute lead. Deal? As for Brittany, yeah we expect her to drop any minute." He ducked in time to avoid the pillow she heaved at him. "Now what's up?"
"Okay, Kessler is trying to run for office, that's why he stole a folder full of information from CJ last night after he drugged her with GHB. She was really sick. They had to call the paramedics in. Then just now, we went to his room and we found him in the hot tub with three really, really young women, none of whom were his wife and we want pictures to be able to sabotage him if he even thinks about running after what he did." Chloe said softly to make sure no one else would hear.
"Give me five minutes," Danny gasped, scrambling on the floor for jeans and a shirt. "This is unbelievable. Wait...CJ was sick? Is she OK now? Toby must be ready to kill this guy."
"Well she's up and about. We still don't know if she's totally alright...." Chloe said hesitantly and then proceeded, "we're unsure if he may have harmed a baby that was trying to start."
"Oh my god," Danny gasped. "Now I'm sure Toby is ready to kill him. I'll do anything I can to help you nail this bastard. What's the plan?"
"Well we were thinking, actually it was my brilliant fiance's idea to sneak up on the swimming pool level of our hotel and shoot with a long range lens perfectly over to the hot tub of his hotel. It will work won't it?"
"Brittany, you know about cameras and lenses don't you?" Danny asked, "better than I do. What do we have or what can we lay our hands on in the next five minutes? I really want to get this guy."
Brittany struggled out of bed and pointed to a bag that had been stowed on the floor. Chloe lifted it up and Brittany dug through it bringing out a camera and several long tube lens. She put them on and looked out the window adjusting. "Yep, that should do it. You know how to use a camera Danny. Just focus it as usual. It you find you've got too much magnification then take them off and adjust until you get it right."
"Thank-you Brittany, so much," Chloe smiled, "come on hurry!"
Danny kissed Brittany and hurried after Chloe and Tucker, running across the courtyard to the spot on the roof where Tucker believed they could get a good view. "He's still there isn't he?" Tucker panted.
"Oh yeah!" Chloe said eyes wide as she looked through the binoculars they'd brought along, "and you won't believe what he's doing with those teenagers over there!" she passed the binoculars to Tucker.
"How can he think he can get away with this?" Tucker frowned. "The man must be sick. Or high--or drunk? I just plain don't believe it."
"Neither do I," Danny panted, clicking the shutter as fast as he could. "Tucker, Chloe, this is amazing. And scary."
"No what he did to CJ last night was scary," Chloe replied. "are you getting it good. I can't believe they are doing this knowing they've a hotel of press and the President over here!"
"It's scary that this man entertains the idea that he could be the leader of the free world," Danny told her, "and that there are people who support him in that."
"Guys, time," Tucker urged. "It's getting late and we've still got to process the film."
"Right," Chloe said and she hurried Danny along. They went to the special conference room set up for the press to process their film. Fortunately Danny was good at that and they soon had a large set of prints. "Okay we've got to get to..." Chloe stopped when she remembered Danny. "you know Tucker."
"I can take the hint," Danny grinned. "OK you guys go ahead. This was a good thing we did. I need to get back to Brittany anyway. I don't like leaving her for very long. Remember our deal though."
He left them alone and Tucker looked at her. "OK Lois Lane, now what?"
"We go directly to Dad and hand these over and tell him about the deal we had to make with Danny to get them and then we get ready and go to the meeting and watch CJ nail this guy!" she smiled and then began hauling Tucker down to the elevator and then off the elevator and down toward her Dad and Mom's room to see where her Dad was at.
Jed and Abbey were sitting at the table in their suite having coffee and talking quietly. Leo and the rest of the staff had been banished, and Zoey let in Tucker and Chloe. "This better be good," she whispered, "because they're not much in the mood to be disturbed."
"We'll take our chances because this is pretty important," Tucker nodded, taking Chloe's hand and leading her over to Mr. and Mrs. Bartlet. Jed raised his eyes and regarding the two, now standing before them silently. "Well?"
"We have something that might help you, with CJ," Chloe said and she handed over the pictures. Her Uncle Jed made her nervous when he was like this.
"Oh my god," Jed gasped, looking at the dozen or so pictures. "I don't believe these. You took these did you? You personally witnessed the behavior and then took the pictures. I'm asking because you could have to swear before a jury that you did both."
"We saw him twice sir," Tucker said solemnly, "once at the door and then once on the roof when we did the pictures. Danny was with us. Danny thinks he's sick, seriously sir. Like some kind of...I don't know, mental problem."
"These will help CJ and you right?" Chloe asked, "Oh and we had to promise a head start and a thirty minute exclusive to get these."
"I'm going to take this man out of politics," Jed said slowly. "There's no place for him there. I don't want to use these, but I will if that's what it takes. Thirty minute lead for Danny is not a problem. We'll have him come in first, meet Kessler and then invite the rest of the press. The pictures come out only if he refuses to announce his withdrawal." He took off his glasses and looked up at his two interns. "You two still getting married or what?"
Chloe looked startled at the question. "Yes sir, of course we're still getting married. You're supposed to be officiating the ceremony next Friday...why wouldn't we be?" she looked to Tucker rather startled.
"I'm teasing you guys. Of course you're going to be married, and I would be honored to officiate," Jed smiled, looking at them fondly. "You guys did a good thing here. Go get ready. I want you both with me when we do this."
"Yes sir," Chloe said with a nod and a smile and then she and Tucker made for their room. Chloe straightened her navy suit and brushed her hair. Then she changed from her flats to heels. She redid her make-up and then looked herself over in the full-length mirror. "Okay, I'm as beautiful as I'm going to get today."
"Well so am I. Do you like this new eye make up? It was on sale at Bloomies and I thought it matched my pupils really well," Tucker teased in a falsetto voice, batting his eyes at her. "You know we're a part of history here don't you?"
Chloe was doubled over in laughter. "We're going to really make history if you don't take that off! You look hideous!"
"I'm adorable," he countered, and then put some water on his hand to take it off at the sink. "Uh this isn't working," he frowned, and she laughed harder. "Chloe this isn't working. Help me here huh."
"It's water-proof make-up silly," Chloe laughed, "that means it won't come off in the water? Here..." she pulled out a new make-up remover sheet from her container and in a flash had removed the eye make-up. "It's a good thing you're a man because your make-up coordination severely needs work!" She kissed him. "Are we ready?"
"Now we are," he grinned. "And thank you for helping me to avoid looking foolish. Or more than I normally do anyway."
"CJ you're sure you feel up to this?" Toby frowned for the tenth time. I know you deserve to see him squirm, but I don't know that you shouldn't still be in bed here. You've already had one dizzy spell this morning."
"Toby I'll be fine," CJ sighed, even though she felt pretty nauseous at the moment. She walked out to grab her jacket and almost had another spell but fortunately he missed that one. "Okay let's go and make my day. Then I can get a good nap with you."
"OK I can live with that," Toby decided, still not convinced but none the less taking her arm to lead her to the conference room.
The senior staff began to gather and the President and Mrs. Bartlet walked in. Danny remained discreetly to one side. Once all were seated, Jed gave the nod for Kessler to be admitted.
Kessler walked in, startled to see so many people present. "Mr. Kessler, please have a seat," Jed said and when he sat everyone sat.
"You wanted to talk to me?" Eric Kessler asked.
"Mr. Kessler, sit," Jed motioned. "I would be very interested in knowing what happened between you and Ms. Cregg yesterday. You encountered her in the bar and invited her to join you for a drink and...please fill us in."
Eric looked at Jed oddly and then smiled, "Well I met Miss Craig in the bar like Mr. McGarry's secretary had arranged it. I bought her a glass of red wine, a merlot I believe and then we sat down and talked...she showed me some very interesting figures..."
"What sort of figures?" Leo asked pointedly and Toby stirred restlessly next to him. Leo clamped a firm hand on his arm. "Mr. Kessler what sort of figures?"
"Figures from recent opinion poles," Kessler replied, "and a report on the major public issues."
"And she was showing you these for what reason?"
"Because Mr. McGarry asked her to," Kessler replied unflinchingly, "something about informing me that you had the vote in this district. Congratulations Mr. President."
"Thank you Mr. Kessler. Yes I do have the votes there. My visit here is confirming that. Now the question is, why you felt it necessary to drug Ms. Cregg."
Kessler frowned, "I don't know what you are talking about...surely you are mistaken? Ms. Cregg was drugged? That's terrible..." "Where is the folder?" CJ spoke up, "I don't have it Mr. Kessler."
"And you're thinking I do? And wait a moment, is this an accusation here?"
Toby stirred and again Leo clamped his hand on him. "Ssshh, it's going just fine."
"Well since we're all here I think I'll take this moment to say yes it is," CJ replied, "I know that I had two glasses of Merlot with you last night and that at one point I got up to use the ladies room. I also know I was drugged last night and the folder of information is missing. "I'm sure though that if we open that briefcase of yours sitting there that it will quickly appear."
"I don't think so," Kessler shook his head. "My private papers are just that--private. And I can see this meeting is coming to an end, and I have a plane to catch. Mr. President, excuse me."
"I don't think so," Leo intervened, "sit down Mr. Kessler. We're just getting started here." CJ saw at that point the edge of the file in his case and she pointed it out to Leo not sure exactly what she could or should do next.
"What exactly do you want from me?" Kessler demanded. "What do you want me to say? I'm certainly not going to admit to drugging this woman's drink. I can't very well campaign from prison."
"We want you to announce that you're withdrawing," Leo said calmly. "We don't care what reasons or excuse you give. In exactly nine minutes those doors are going to open and the White House Press corps is going to swarm in; to hear your withdrawal statement."
"And if I decline?"
The brown envelope of photos rested on the table in front of Jed.
"Then we distribute this package of photos to the press corps," Jed said opening the packet and passing it to him, "don't worry about tearing these up. We have plenty of duplicates where that came from."
"I'm enjoying the amenities of the hotel with three of my assistants here," Kessler stammered only slightly as he perused the pictures.
"Sir, check out number sixteen," Tucker said quietly, "you're enjoying more than the hot tub in that one."
"How did you get these?!" Kessler demanded, "Apparently I didn't drug you quite well enough," he said getting up and getting in CJ's face, "by the way it was one glass of merlot, not two. You weren't even that difficult, one was all it took."
Leo's hand did not stop Toby this time. He was out of his chair and with one mighty roundhouse to the man's chin, Kessler was knocked from his chair to the floor. Toby stood over him, rubbing his fist and wondering if he had broken his hand, quickly deciding it was worth it.
CJ had gasped and Chloe had cried out. Kessler was soon up on his feet and bleeding out his upper lip and nose. "Here's your folder," he said harshly tossing it onto CJ's lap. Caroline handed him a towel, "you might want to clean up for your withdrawal speech...or we can make it for you and pass around those press packets over there." She indicated a box.
"No I can leave with some dignity," Kessler growled, looking to the bathroom. "Give me a minute." He started for the bathroom and Josh and Sam were right behind him.
Toby held on to his hand and smiled to CJ. "That felt wonderful."
"Geez Toby are you okay?" CJ fretted, "you didn't break it did you?" She leaned against him. "You didn't have to do that..."
"Oh yes I did," he grinned, "and I don't even care. It was totally worth it. Did you see the look on his face? And I even held back some." He tried to flex the fingers then and realized they were not moving. "OK yes I did break it and it hurts like hell now that you mention it."
CJ dropped her head back and sighed in frustration. "Charlie go call and get someone over here that can cast a broken hand or tell us where to go and what to do," she sighed. Abbey looked at it and winced, "yep, definitely broken. Not one of your more intelligent moves Toby."
"But one of the best feeling ones I've had in a long time," he grinned. "And Charlie hold that thought. I'm not going anywhere until this plays out, and then I can run down to the ER down the street and get it done. It's not a big deal."
Josh and Sam returned with the now un-bloodied Mr. Kessler and Leo nodded to Chloe to let the press in. With much jostling the press found places, and Jed motioned them to sit. "Good morning ladies and gentlemen. Mr. Kessler and I have had a very productive conversation here, along with members of my senior staff. And now he has an announcement to make."
Kessler did not look happy but then put on a smile, "In light of circumstances beyond my control...I have decided not to run for the office of President of the United States. I feel that I can better serve my fellow Americans elsewhere. I would also like to say that in light of this announcement I endorse President Bartlet as the nominee." He coughed. The press was scribbling madly and the photographers were having a hay day. Chloe was not watching closely enough and a few of the press members walked over and got packets out of the blackmail box.
"Whoa wait a minute," one of them yelled starting to look at the shots. "Put that down," Danny told him firmly. "Those are not for release." Tucker at once saw what he was doing and sprinted across, his hands out, leaving no doubt he intended to collect them.
The reporters reluctantly handed back their copies and Chloe helped Tucker get them back in the box and then she sat on it to prevent further tampering.
"What prompted your quick departure from the campaign when just a week ago you announced that you were going to make an all out run and your campaign contributions are up to three million," one reporter addressed Kessler.
"Family and personal considerations," he said quietly. "Nothing I'd care to go into here. I expect I'll be writing a book and doing some fund raising as well."
The reporters scribbled busily. Meanwhile CJ was coddling Toby's hand gently in her own. She was trying not to look worried but it was in her eyes. She was thankful when 15 minutes later she could excuse the press. Kessler stood up once the press had left. CJ rose also and walked over to him. "Don't you dare ever do that to another woman," she ground out angrily and then she slapped him across the face.
Kessler rose angrily, instinctively about to strike her back, when Toby stepped in front of her. Kessler's blow landed on him harmlessly. "Don't you come around any of us again or it will be more than your jaw that's hurt," he warned. Kessler turned on his heel and strode out, only to be ambushed by the press in the hallway.
"We did it," Leo said quietly. "Finished the career of a man who had no business wanting to serve. Toby how's your hand?"
"Pretty broken I'm afraid," he admitted. "I guess it's time to get it looked at."
"You better believe it, immediately," CJ said, "If anyone needs us we'll be at the emergency room and so therefore pretty well unreachable due to the no cellphone rule." She and Toby left.
"Josh. I want to go to the church now and light that candle," Donna requested. Ainsley was still sitting in her chair not quite sure what to make of everything that had just occured.
"Right away honey," Josh nodded, not even concerned over the endearment term in the presence of the others. "Sam Donna would like to go to church to pray for CJ's baby if there is one. You think..." he gestured toward Ainsley and Sam nodded, kneeling next to her. "Ainsley, Josh and Donna are going to go pray for the baby if there is. Would you like to go?"
"Yes please," Ainsley smiled, "I'd like that very much, I mean if Josh and Donna don't mind. I think it's very important that we pray for CJ and Toby's baby if there is one and her health also."
Sam helped her carefully to her feet. "Then let's do it. And then this afternoon we're doing that bayou tour. I'm taking a baby alligator home by the way. He's living in the bathtub when we're not using it."
Ainsley looked at him wide-eyed, "I certainly hope you're joking Samuel Seaborn. I refuse to have an alligator for a pet!"
"I understand they're very cuddly," Sam grinned, helping her to follow Josh and Donna out. "Where are we going?"
"St. Louis Cathedral up on the next block," Josh told him. "Ladies do we feel like walking or shall I get the doorman to grab a cab?"
"we can walk. I love all of the sights and sounds," Ainsley smiled. "But the smells," Donna wrinkled her nose. Ainsley inhaled deeply, "all I smell are lucky dogs." "Oh I wish I was having one for lunch," Donna said. "We're having Cafe Maesparos for lunch," Ainsley reminded her with a smile, "I'm sure you will find something to your liking. You can save the lucky dog for a midnight snack run for Josh."
"Josh signs off at 10PM," he teased. "So we're walking then? Donna you'll be OK with the walking? We can always take a cab back if you need to."
"Josh it's a block. I'm only four months," Donna reminded him, "okay four and a week." They walked up the long block and into Jackson square. Before them was the massive and impressive St. Louis Cathedral. It's two white towers looming on either side. They approached it by walking through the garden plaza surrounded by black rod iron fence. Once inside they were surrounded by beautiful painting on the upper portion of the walls and on the ceilings high above them. They walked in and Donna, Ainsley and Sam kneeled and made the cross symbol. Then they walked over to the tables of candles and Donna and Ainsley each lit one and began to pray that if CJ carried a baby that it might indeed be protected.
Sam and Josh stood behind the women they loved, resting their hands on their shoulders and Josh's hands slid down to the baby mound. "And God in heaven, keep this woman whom I adore and these babies I very much want, safe and sound," he whispered.
Finally the women rose from their prayers, Donna first followed by Ainsley and they left the church. "Now I think we should go back and wait for CJ and Toby to get back and then we can all go out to a celebratory lunch," Donna said. "I hope that wasn't Toby's good hand," Ainsley thought aloud.
"How would you know which hand Toby is good with?" Sam teased. "I'm sure he figures it was totally worth it. I know I would have."
"I feel sorry for Toby and CJ," Donna spoke up.
"It's a good thing I'm not bleeding to death," Toby muttered as he was directed to a waiting area. He followed CJ and the room suddenly began to swim before his eyes, dizziness brought on by the increasing pain. He stopped and grabbed onto one of the poles in the middle of the large room. "OK suddenly this isn't fun any more."
"Toby!" CJ gasped and two attendants grabbed hold of him to help steady him and guide him to a bed they laid him on. CJ was at his side at once. "Are you okay?!" She asked in a panic and she clutched the side of his bed and then was forced into a quickly placed chair by her own dizzyness. "Please do something for him," CJ demanded, "quickly."
"We're getting an injection for the pain right now," the nurse assured her, "but Ms. Cregg you're not looking all that well yourself. You're pale and shaking and you're even a little warm here. Mr. Ziegler is being well taken care of and is going to be fine. You on the other hand could be getting the flu here."
Toby heard the conversation and struggled to sit up. "CJ you OK? What's wrong with her?"
"I'm fine Toby," CJ replied, "I feel fine. I'm just a little warm and nauseous and I've had some dizzy spells. It's nothing serious."
"Doesn't sound like nothing to me," Toby growled, "I think you......ooowww for godsake what are you doing to me?" The orthopedist was spreading his hand out in preparation for setting it. "Just shoot me why don't you," Toby groaned again, "now what are we doing for my fiancee there?"
"Are you pregnant Ms. Cregg?" the nurse asked gently.
"Preg--of course I'm not--oh...I don't know," CJ replied suddenly dazed. She couldn't be carrying Toby's baby already could she? and that would mean the drugs could have hurt whoever was in there.
"She's also had a little bit of GHB slipped to her and not much sleep," Toby pointed out. "Might she just be reacting to that?"
"Very easily," the nurse assured them. "GHB huh. That's not good for a pregnancy, but it's not a death sentence either. Would you like us to draw some blood?"
"Sure," CJ said and she held out her arm turning her head towards Toby and trying not to look at anything that might push her already sqeemish stomach over the edge.
Toby reached the arm out that he was not having fixed and took her hand as they drew the blood, filling up a small vial. "OK both of you just hang loose now. We're going to check your hand with the x-ray again after the setting dries and by then we'll have the results."
They were left alone and Toby drew her to him, holding tightly to her hand. "Scared?"
"Only that if I am it won't survive the effects of the drugs. Toby I won't...I can't have this baby if it's going to have a terrible life...please try to understand that..." CJ said gently a look of pain on her face.
"Of course not," Toby nodded, pulling her head down to rest on his shoulder. "We're not going to bring a baby into the world unless it's healthy and whole and can live a full and normal life. I would not condemn a baby to live a half a life." It seemed forever until the nurse returned. "Mr. Ziegler you're doing just fine," she smiled. "Your hand had one clean break of only one bone and it should heal totally normally."
"Thanks, but she's my main concern," Toby frowned. "Is she pregnant?"
"The test came back inconclusive," the nurse replied, "we don't know for sure one way or the other. In this case I suppose you should take precautionary measures as though you were. Then take another test in about a week." CJ sighed. Now they still had as few answers as when they had come in.
Toby rolled off the bed, keeping a firm arm around her. "Hey, it's out of our hands now. I think that's God's way of saying He's making the decision. Come on, let's get on back to the others. We have a luncheon and a boat ride planned. Just remember I love you and whatever happens, happens to both of us."
CJ smiled and squeezed his good hand. Then she couldn't help but tease, "I suppose this means I'm supposed to go break my hand too right?" She laughed lightly and made sure Toby was steady before they left to go back to the hotel.
"Wonder what this gets me out of?" Toby grinned, feeling the pain medication kick in fully and he was able to move his hand despite the cast. "Of course I can still make love with one hand," he added in a hoarse whisper.
"That's one worth testing tonight," CJ whispered back. Then she leaned in and kissed him. They took a cab the short distance back to the hotel and CJ was happy to be back as she laid down on the bed.
"Toby and CJ seem very capable of handling whatever comes their way," Josh reminded her, pulling her into a large hug. "They have each other, and they can count on us, all of us, for love and support." His fingers went to her left hand and he tugged gently on her ring. "I love you Donntella."
Donna smiled brightly. Then she teased, "too bad Lyman I'm already engaged to the love of my life and the man of my dreams." She leaned in and kissed him then.
"Well since you're busy I'll see what Ainsley's doing," Josh teased and turned to her and Sam, only to find them locked in a long kiss. "OK, I guess it's back to you and me." He kissed her again and added, "and I thank god for that."
Donna smiled and kissed him, "I love you Joshua Lyman. Now let's get back to the hotel before we miss the ride to lunch. Do you know what kind of a time we'd have trying to get in by ourselves. They'd probably leave us out on the street to watch through the open doors while they ate all that great food!"
"You'd be the lead story on the 6PM news in that event," Josh teased her while he raised his arm to hail a cab. "I hope CJ and Toby are OK."
Toby followed her down on the bed, glad of the chance to rest his hand, and he draped his arm protectively over her. "Are you up for the lunch thing or would you sooner do room service and stay right here? I'm good with either. Having you all to myself doesn't seem like a bad thing though."
"No, I don't want to upset everyone. It would just raise more concern and questions," CJ replied, "besides we'd miss out on the chance to eat at Maesparos. I've heard it's worth it."
"As have I," Toby nodded. "And we want to come back here for a short nap before we take our cruise. Did you know Sam is bringing home an alligator for their bathtub? I was thinking of an egret for the office. You know a conversation opener for when foreign heads of state come."
CJ gave no verbal response merely raised an eyebrow and gave him the 'you have got to be kidding me' look.
"But I guess Charlie wouldn't appreciate having to clean up after it," Toby grinned and rolled off the bed, grimacing when he rolled over his hand. "I'm going to shower and dress. Care to make it a twosome?"
"Sure," CJ smiled, "don't forget we're got to cover all that cast over in plastic. "We can't get any water in there or on it." She stood up and began to undress. He was only just now starting to catch on to the fact that she wore a garter belt of black velvet all the time and beautiful bras of assorted designs but all in black to match it. As soon as she was bare she sauntered into the bathroom and opened the door to the glass party shower and started the water.
Toby wrapped his cast and hurried in after her, finding her standing under the stream, letting the water stream down over her hair and face. He stepped inside and immediately gathered her against her chest, holding her and rocking her. No words were necessary. His arms told her he loved her and he was there for her.
"Well now we still don't know. I'm sorry they couldn't give you any answers," CJ said over the water.
"I've decided it's totally out of our hands," Toby said seriously. "If God wants us to have our baby now, then a perfect little being is growing inside you. If He's not, then He's not, then we'll have our baby later. In the meantime I love you very much, and I want you to be my wife as soon as possible."
CJ turned around and kissed him lovingly. "I love you so much Toby Ziegler." She was quiet for a moment then. "Toby there's something that we haven't talked about and I don't know how much longer we can step around the issue. It's going to be a big thing in our lives and..." she looked at him her eyes almost filled with pain.
Toby looked at her quizzically, his hands resting on her shoulders and then gentle palms held her face. "Then I guess we'd better get to it. I love you Claudia Jean, and nothing you can say is going to change that. So when you're ready to tell me, I'm ready to listen."
"Our faiths Toby...they're a world apart. I don't know hardly anything about the Jewish faith. Just enough to remember my mother telling me when I was younger that Jewish people weren't saved."
"Yeah," he said quietly. "It's true that in my faith we don't recognize your Messiah; but the Lord God both of us pray to is one in the same. And I don't believe He would allow us to fall in love if He meant that we were to have differences over that. I can easily accept that you believe in Jesus Christ, if you can accept that I don't. And our children...well they can learn about both and at some point they can decide which they want to accept."
"And your...your community will accept that?" CJ asked, "I don't want us to be torn apart by this."
He shook his head firmly. "There are many people at Temple who are married to Gentiles. These people are welcome at services and at our social events. But that's not even the point. I love you Claudia Jean. I would give up my job, and my faith, for that."
CJ just stared at him, the water running over her for a long moment. She had a look of love and compassion in her eyes like none he had ever seen before. When she kissed him it was finally once again without any reserve. Thanks to the shower water he would never know she was crying tears of joy and relief.
He wrapped his arms around her, pressing his hands to her belly where their baby could lie and rocked her to him, letting the water wash over them. Finally he let her go and wordlessly began to apply liquid soap to both of them.
She smiled as she watched him do it one handed and eventually she helped him. When they were finished she did the drying and then they redressed. "Okay, now that all that's settled how about some lunch at Maesparos. I promise I'll feed you if you get stuck." she smiled and kissed him.
"I can probably feed myself OK," he sighed, "but mom, I'm going to need my meat cut up I'm afraid. Still it was worth it. OK I think we're ready."
They walked out to the main hallway and found Josh and Sam with Donna and Ainsley, along with Charlie and Zoey. "Anyone else going?" Toby asked.
"Well you had certainly better not plan on going without us," Jed said as he and Leo appeared with their wives. Chloe and Tucker hurried in. "Sorry we're late," Chloe panted out, "it's all his fault."
"A little lust before lunch.." Tucker teased and Jed raised an eyebrow.
"KIDDING," Tucker yelped. "Of course it's all my fault."
"See he's already got the biggest thing down a husband has to learn," Sam laughed, giving his brother's hair an affectionate ruffle.
"Then I guess we're ready," Leo observed, taking count of everyone. "Toby you OK. CJ?"
"We're holding together," Toby smiled, "CJ's got her mouth all set for this."
"Don't know about my stomach," she said under her breath just loud enough that Toby caught it. "Let's go everyone," she said out loud.
"Now, now wait a minute," Jed halted the procession. He walked up in front of the group with Abbey getting a few feet in front of them. "We don't go until I say we go...okay let's go."
"Point of order," Toby grinned, wrapping his arm around CJ. "You just let me know if you need to leave or need me to do anything."
They walked again to the basement and the motorcade formed up as the staff divided into two limo's. "I don't know whether to get in to catch you or stay out here to help you in," Josh fretted, looking to Sam. "I was thinking the same thing," he grinned. "OK I'll get in and catch them both, you push them in from this end."
"We are not cargo," Ainsley objected and by now she and Donna were laughing hysterically at their two men.
Josh and Sam looked at each other. "We know, if you were cargo we would have just tossed you," Sam spoke up. The two women gave him the look. "Sam-" Josh started. "I know, I know, open mouth insert foot," Sam said as if he often found himself in just that position. They helped the women in and CJ and Toby joined them along with Charlie and Zoey, while Jed, Abbey, Leo, Caroline, Chloe and Tucker rode in the first limo.
There was an awkward silence in the second limo and finally Josh touched CJ's hand. "We said a prayer for you this morning," he said softly, "you and the baby if there is one. I just wanted you to know we're thinking about you." Toby tightened his arm around her shoulders. "Thanks guys. We're going to be OK. Together."
CJ smiled, "We really appreciate it. I had a test while we were at the ER. It came back inconclusive. So we can't say I am but we can't say I'm not either."
"Then it sounds to me like it's out of your hands now," Josh said seriously, "but you know we're all right here for you whatever you need."
"You guys are the best," Toby declared seriously, his voice choking some.
"And we'll remind you of that the next time you're yelling at us," Sam spoke up.
"Uh Sam," Josh cautioned, "you saw what happened to the last guy..."
"I'll just sit here and be quiet now," Sam said. Everyone in the limo laughed.
"But that does bring up a point," Josh grinned. "I think we're all going to be more careful what we say to Toby from now on...and for crying out loud honey if I move over any more I'm going to be out the door. Can't get comfortable?" Donna had been squirming the whole trip and now in a vain attempt to get settled she sharply elbowed Josh in the side.
"No," Donna whimpered, "I'm too fat to be comfortable. The bad part is I'm just going to keep getting bigger and bigger and...my back hurts and the babies are fluttering around in there..."
"Well at least yours have moved," Ainsley sighed. She was still waiting patiently to feel what everyone thought was so wonderful.
"Don't rush it," Josh advised her. "You've got two who are soon going to be kick boxing each other." He turned back to Donna, lowering his arm so it was wrapped around her middle and could massage the belly. "You guys quit giving Mommy a hard time now. Daddy's right here."
"Ouch! Jeez Josh don't egg them on!" Donna moaned.
CJ looked at Toby, "and we want that?"
"I want to walk beside you, and see our baby large and healthy inside you, and yes we want that, very much," he grinned.
CJ smiled and cuddled against him.
Donna groaned and moved again. "We're taking separate limo's on the way back," Josh teased, trying to help her get settled. "You know a wine cooler would do wonders toward relaxing them, but since you can't have one, I think I'll have yours."
Donna glared at him, "Josh Lyman you're impossible!"
Everyone else laughed.
Josh wormed his hand between the seat and her back and began to rub the achy spot. "Maybe this will help, but we're not much further to go now anyway. You can get them something hot and spicy to make them sleep."
Donna began to moan softly and smile. "Thank-you, that's just what the mommy ordered."
The motorcade pulled up in front and the president had apparently given approval for a short rope line. Josh stepped from the car and helped the women in turn, glaring at Sam when he held his hand out for assistance. They were about to walk inside when from somewhere behind them a balloon burst. The sound sent Josh's mind spinning back to that horrible night last summer and he clutched his chest just as he did that night, dropping to his knees, his face contorted in pain.
"Josh no!!!" Donna screamed. This sent the secret service into a panic and they thrust the first family back in the limo while the others ran in, in panic. Donna meanwhile dropped to her knees beside Josh. She looked and couldn't see any blood, nor could Sam or Toby. "Josh, Josh are you alright?" Donna asked again. It was quickly being ascertained that there was no real threat this time.
"Donna let me see," Sam urged, seeing that the Service was signaling no threat. "Josh what's going on? You're all right. It wasn't a shot."
"Donna? I need Donna," Josh gasped, trying to get a grip on reality. "Is Donna OK? She wasn't shot was she?"
"There weren't any shots fired Josh. It's okay, we're all okay. You're okay," Donna said rubbing his shoulder. She was now terribly worried and she looked to Sam, her face pale.
"He's OK," Sam whispered. "The noise just got to him, triggered something in his mind. Let's get him up and inside. A drink and some food should fix him up." He spotted her movement and pushed her back gently. "You don't lift even half a two hundred pound man Ms. Pregnant with Triplets." He took a firm grip on Josh then and hauled him to his feet. "Let's go Josh, Donna's right here and lunch is waiting."
"Donna?" Josh's hand waved, groping for hers.
Donna slipped her hand tightly in his and walked with him as they walked him inside and then sat him down. "Are you sure he's going to be okay?" Donna asked as she looked at the other members around the table.
"Josh, where are we?" Sam asked him sharply.
"Rossl..." he began and then looked around the table, finally his eyes cleared and he focused on Donna. "We're in some restaurant I can't pronounce in New Orleans, and this beautiful woman is my fiancee, pregnant with my triplets. I uh....I guess I freaked out there for a bit?"
Donna threw her arms around him in relief. "I think that would be an understatement," Leo said at the same time as Sam said, "I guess you did."
"Do you feel better now? Do you feel okay?" Donna asked.
Chloe's mind wandered off, again trying to think of what may have happened that night. She was thankful that her mom didn't hear of it until they moved to DC. She could have lost the twins.
"Yeah I'm OK," Josh sighed. "I remember now. I heard the bang and then I looked around and I didn't see you and then suddenly it was that night and all I could think of was that somehow you were there and lost."
"Now mine is zoning out," Tucker fretted, hugging Chloe tightly.
Chloe smiled at him, "I'm fine. I was just thinking." she shrugged.
"Well I'm fine and I was fine that night until I got to the hospital and Sam told me. Then my world stopped."
"I thought we were going to have to get a doctor for her," Sam said in all seriousness.
"Enough please!" CJ spoke up louder than she had perhaps intended.
"Amen," Toby agreed. "I'm not real anxious to relive finding one of my best friends on the ground bleeding and not knowing what had happened to the rest of you. Now let's have a drink or some wine maybe? Fruit juice for the ladies?"
"Virgin Daiquaris!" the women said in unison all of them pointing to the sign over the bar that said virgin daiquaris one dollar every day.
"I don't do virgins," Sam murmured, not realizing what he said until the roar went up around the table. "I mean I need the real thing."
"Nice clarification Sam," Ainsley whispered, "or I would have called you a liar." Everyone was laughing really hard including Jed and Abbey. "You can always count on Sam for some comic relief man," Charlie said in between bouts of laughter.
"I'll bet he's a regular laugh riot in the bedroom," Josh chortled. "Ainsley I'm sure you've got a dozen stories you could share with us."
Sam's hand closed over Ainsley's and he laughed good naturedly, though his mind was on that stormy night when the babies were conceived and she was in fact a virgin. "I love you," he whispered to her.
"Is that supposed to keep me from talking?" she teased and then she kissed him. "I love you Sam Seaborn." The waiter brought their drinks, umbrellas in the women's virgins and the men's were plain.
"I'm really getting into this Cajun food," Jed declared. "I think we may have to hire a Cajun chef for the white house, at least part time. And I'm also looking forward to our bayou trip. OK are we ordering or should we just let the chef send out his specialties and try some of each. I still haven't bitten any crawdaddy heads off yet though."
"Oh God how does that phrase come up so much!" Ainsley exclaimed turning green and throwing a hand over her mouth as she rose and hurriedly tried to find the restroom. Donna just turned pale and greenish.
"Mr. President," Sam yelped before getting up and hurrying after Ainsley, disregarding the "Women" sign on the door. Josh felt Donna sway toward him and he caught her. "Uh Mr. President that's not a good topic for discussion as Sam and I have found out."
Jed did a quick check of Abbey, realizing what he had done. "You holding together there? Maybe I should check on Ainsley since it was my fault."
"I'm fine and I'm sure Sam's taking care of Ainsley but an apology when they return might be nice," Abbey smiled gently, "don't you remember all those things we didn't talk about when I was pregnant with Zoey?"
"Oh yeah," Jed nodded. "I kept a list. Remember the time we were invited to the Senators home and he put out the raw bar. I scooped up a raw oyster and was letting it slide down and you took off running."
Abbey started looking a little pale herself. "Jed that's still on the list." She said patting his arm. "If you men want your seafood so bad we women will sit at another table and you can go for it."
"No seafood," Jed declared firmly. "Let's all name something we'd enjoy having and get it cooked and served to pass. Me I'm up for gumbo. Oh someone write. CJ you're not doing anything, take a food order."
"Yes sir, Mr. President," CJ looked mildly amused. She got out a pad and pen. "I'd like a muffalata," CJ said. "What's a lattamufa or whatever?" Josh asked. "It's a great sandwich on round bread, huge loaded with Italian meats and cheeses and then topped with a special olive dressing," CJ smiled. "Oh I'll take one two," Ainsley said.
"Donna share one of those with me," Josh urged. "You know I couldn't eat a whole one and I want some of that soup, which I have no idea what it's called but it smelled wonderful."
"That's turtle..." Sam began and then remembered Ainsley. "Sorry Angel. I'll have the sausage ettoufee please."
CJ scribbled furiously. She took down the rest of the orders, more red beans and rice some of the soup not to be named in front of Ainsley and Abbey was even brave and got calamari. The food was brought as soon as possible since they were the only customers. The sandwiches were gigantic. CJ immediately dove into hers and laughed when some fell out the back. She picked it up and ate it too.
"CJ you did good," Jed approved. "I think there's a post-press secretary career opportunity in there for you."
"The only post press secretary career I want for her is as my wife and my kids' mother," Toby spoke up, and then looked embarrassed. "And that was a totally chauvinistic remark and I'm sorry."
"Thank-you because I intend on practicing law, after all what did I get the degree for otherwise," CJ remarked. "I think you all should all get a big law office together," Chloe remarked.
"Jed Bartlet and associates," Jed spoke up. "Seriously you know I get a presidential office when this is done, to write my book and so forth. No reason it couldn't all be part of one endeavor. Only question is where. CJ, Toby you're probably wanting to go back to California, Ainsley will take Sam to North Carolina, Donna will take Josh to Wisconsin, and so forth. We're going to scatter like seeds to the wind."
"Wait a minute," CJ and Ainsley said at the same time. "California?" "North Carolina?" "No thanks."
"I left Wisconsin once already," Donna interjected.
"Actually DC was sounding good to me," CJ said.
"Mr. President you're not married to the idea of New Hampshire are you?" Josh asked hopefully. "I mean wouldn't it be OK to have a practice in DC? I would think we could have a multi specialty practice that way, like political law, civil law and so forth."
Leo smiled, "That sounds like a wonderful idea." "Of course we're looking almost six years into the future but..." Abbey smiled, "I like it. I would like to see all of us stay together and do that. I'll just wander around the office and pretend to be useful."
"You my angel would never be useless," Jed admonished her. After all those years they were still much in love and he was not ashamed to show it. "In the first place, we're at that point going to have like a first grader, so that alone will keep you busy. That's a real kid growing inside you you know."
Abbey blushed, for a moment she had almost forgotten the new life inside her. She was once again carrying Jed's baby. She smiled and laid a hand over where their baby lay nestled deep within her. "I know. I almost forget sometimes though, sometimes it feels like a dream."
CJ became quietly lost in thought, her mind going over the possibilities of her own situation again.
Toby leaned over to her, hooking his arm around her neck, his thumb massaging her cheek as he pressed his lips to her temple. "Remember what ever happens, you and me and God are going to deal with it," he whispered.
Donna squirmed uncomfortably again, trying to get settled. "If this goes on tonight, we're moving to a room with twin beds," Josh groaned.
Donna looked at him and tears began to escape. "Excellent choice Josh," Ainsley spoke up not too pleased with him at the moment and trying to comfort Donna next to her. "You try dealing with twelve extra pounds or so in this shape and with unusual movement inside you and we'll see how you feel," Ainsley replied.
"If I could take a turn I would," Josh yelped and every woman in the room looked at him. "Well I would," he yelped again. "Honey I'm sorry," he whispered to Donna. "You know I can't sleep unless I have my arms wrapped around you."
"But you think I'm a blimp and you don't even want me in the same bed," Donna whimpered.
Meanwhile CJ was busy feeding Toby all of the meat, cheese and olives that had slipped out of her sandwich and fallen on her plate.
"You know having only one hand isn't bad," he grinned, "if I'm going to be getting this kind of service."
"My only thought concerning your body was those sharp elbows as you try to adjust yourself, honest," Josh assured her. "And you know I think you're beautiful like that. Ask Sam. He and I were talking about it before. How much of turn on it is to see our women large with our babies inside them. Sam?"
"Well if he wasn't stuffing his face with a selection from the pastry tray he'd tell you that," Josh went on.
Once again he had managed to pacify Donna and the luncheon went on. Abbey was the first to let out a yawn at its conclusion. "I don't know what the rest of you have on your schedules but unless mine has something major and important on it then it's just been revised to 'nap" Abbey said.
"We have a two hour break and we shall meet for the boat trip," Leo announced, checking his schedule. "That's a moonlight ride though the bayou with dinner to be served."
"I'm getting my alligator," Sam announced.
"Ainsley should I kill him now?" Josh teased.
"Please," Ainsley was quick to reply. The group all finished lunch and made their way back.
CJ was dizzy and curled up for a nap. Meanwhile in the other rooms most of the other women did the same. Chloe and Tucker had all of the little ones. Chloe had baby Leo curled up in her arms.
"I've got one too," Tucker grinned, dropping next to her with the grandson of the President in his lap while Belle and Brighton curled up with their blankies in front of Rugrats. He wrapped his legs around her and rested his chin on her shoulder. "OK close your eyes now. See Belle and Brighton there--they were our first born twins, and then two years later we had another set, that's Charles and Leo here. And people said we were out of our minds, but we just said, no there's just more love to go around."
Chloe smiled, "if it could really be like that. Do you think we could handle two sets of twins? could we even handle one?"
"You and me together? We can do anything," he laughed and kissed her. "Besides it's not just us. In case you haven't noticed, we're surrounded by a large and loving family. Anyway, your mom has given birth to twins already. No doubt they run in your family."
"Yes they do, my grandmother had a twin I'm told and her brothers were twins also. They are prevalent in my family. Would you like some?" Chloe asked him softly, nervoulsy.
"I would love a set or even two," Tucker assured her seriously, trailing his fingers along her cheek. "I love you. I want to marry you. And if our baby turns out to be more than one--I figure God wouldn't send us more than we can handle."
Chloe smiled and then kissed him as the babies in their arms and the two on the floor were asleep.
Evening arrived and everyone was taken to the bayou ride. Ainsley seemed in a particularly good mood. Donna was better after her rest as well. CJ was the one quiet with reflection as she stood with Toby and the others waiting for the boat to load with servicemen and leave its dock.
"You're sure we're safe?" Donna asked Josh as she peered over the side.
"Unsinkable," Josh grinned. "The only real danger is if you drop me overboard for being insensitive earlier. I love you and don't you ever even wonder if I don't want you sleeping right where you belong."
Babies Charles and Leo had been left at the hotel, but Belle and Brighton were bouncing along, their leashes attached to Tucker and Chloe. "I hope bringing them was a good idea," Leo fretted.
"They're fine," Chloe smiled, "besides it gives Tucker and I something to do."
Caroline smiled gently where she was curled against Leo. "They're fine love," she whispered softly.
"Sam," Ainsley asked, "have you ever actually seen an alligator, not that I'm doubting your intelligence or anything, because really I'm not and I have the utmost respect for you. I'm merely inquiring because, well because there's something over the side of this boat looking up at me with eyes out of the water and fish can't do that and I know that because I've fished before."
"Whoa that would be one I'm sure," Sam gasped in awe. "Wow. Look at the size of that mother. Oh wow." He leaned over and waggled his fingers at the creature, and then grabbed Ainsley, making like he was going to push her overboard.
"Alligator," Brighton shouted at the same time, pointing at the reptile who now had his mouth opened all the way.
"Samuel Jacob Seaborn!" Ainsley shouted in a shrill petrified voice. Ainsley's cry was finally enough to rouse CJ from her thoughts and she walked over to the edge and looked down at the alligator. "Amazing," Jed remarked before he began to lecture on everything he knew about alligators.
Toby stood long enough to be polite and then with his arm around CJ's waist, guided her away from the others to the rear of the boat as they picked up speed away from the dock. "OK future Mrs. Ziegler, what's on your mind? Anything I can help you with?"
CJ smiled softly, "nothing that you haven't already tried. I've been thinking about the little life that may or may not be in here. I don't know how I could have been so foolish. None of this would have happened if I had been consciously thinking about how I could be pregnant and not taking any drinks at all."
"I seriously doubt the alcohol you consumed could cause any harm," Toby said soberly. "The drug, that's another thing, but you did get most of it up when you heaved I bet." He rubbed her belly as he pressed himself to her back. "Whatever comes, whatever happens, you're not alone. You have me first and foremost, and I love you so very much. And then look around; these people are family."
CJ smiled, "we're all one large, happy family." She cuddled close to Toby. "Thank-you. This is just hard for me." She raised her engagement ring up and admired it and then cuddled closer to Toby. "You're missing the alligator," she teased softly.
"Priorities," he whispered, taking her into his arms, and tilted her face up for a long kiss. "I love you, and you come first, before the job and before.."
"Even me?" Jed joked, walking past and overhearing. "That's OK. That's the kind of compassion I want from my staff, because it spills over into running the country." Jed kissed CJ's cheek impulsively. "You let me--and I mean me personally--know if you need anything. That's an order."
CJ smiled, "yes sir. Thank-you sir."
"Josh..." Donna whined in that cute way she knew Josh loved, "I want something to drink I'm thirsty." "Now that sounds like a wonderful idea," Abbey smiled. Ainsley looked at Sam her eyes speaking her request.
"Sam I'll have a beer as long as you're going," Josh teased. Sam punched his arm. "They don't pay me enough to wait on you."
"Well the bar is open but I don't want a bunch of drunks falling off the boat," Jed ordered.
Josh groaned and got to his feet, turning to Donna. "Virgin daquiri for you?"
"I'd love one," Donna smiled, "thank-you for asking Josh." Abbey got up and got herself a virgin daquiri. CJ noticed the move and got one as well bringing one to Toby. Chloe got a coke and gave some to Belle and Brighton in turn.
Tucker attempted to settle himself next to Chloe where she was talking to Zoey and Charlie. Instead Belle and Brighton both were pulling and pointing, wanting to go to the very back to the observation deck. "Ok guys, hang on," Tucker grinned, taking the leash end for Belle off Chloe and putting it on his own wrist with Brighton's. He then let them lead him out where they could see the water churning beneath the boat's rear rudder. "Fun," Belle squealed and pulled forward hard, straining the braided plastic. Tucker reached for her arm, not in time as the braiding came unraveled and her momentum carried her over the rail where she disappeared into the turbulent water below.
"I need some help out here," Tucker screamed as loud as he could, taking his shoes and Brighton's leash off at the same time. "Sam help me." Sam heard the scream and ran, only to be handed Brighton as Tucker dove over the rail in the spot where Belle had gone.
The cry for help had brought everyone running and Chloe let out a scream of fear as did Caroline both women hurrying to the edge. Abbey as well looked upset. Brighton began to cry loudly in Sam's arms.
Sam began to strip his own shoes and Ainsley grabbed on to him in fear, seeing what he was planning. "Hold up a second," Josh advised. "Tucker may find her." The boat had been halted several yards away and was now backing slowly under the watchful eye of the crew.
"Josh I don't see either one of them," Sam gasped, "it's full of weeds and dead limbs under there. They could be trapped and..." The thought was too horrible to finish.
Leo wrapped his arm tightly around Caroline and she buried her head in his chest. "Tucker loves that little girl. If anyone can find her, it will be him."
Chloe had a hand over her mouth paling by the minute. She looked like she might soon be ill. "Oh god a shoe!" Ainsley said pointing to a small baby shoe. "Belle!" Caroline cried out again knowing it to belong to her but the precious toddler was no where in sight and things were beginning to look grim.
"I think he needs some help down there," Sam declared, stripping his shirt. Just as he was about to dive, Belle's head broke the surface, being held in Tucker's arms. "I can't get out," Tucker shouted, rapidly losing his breath. "Somebody's got to take her." That was all Sam needed to dive overboard, with Charlie behind him.
Charlie grabbed Belle and brought the lifeless child back solemnly laying her before Abbey with a look in his eyes that begged her to save the little girl. Chloe was still standing at the edge waiting for Sam to return Tucker to her. Caroline was crouched near Abbey tearily.
"There's still a pulse here," Abbey whispered. "I think she's just got some water in her lungs she needs to cough up. Just need to get them working again." With that she closed her mouth over the child's nose and lips, breathing a warm gentle puff of air into her lungs.
"I'm caught, my leg is caught," Tucker gasped. "I pulled Belle out of the stuff but it grabbed me."
"Ok brother, Ok," Sam soothed. "Stop struggling now. I'm going under and get your leg free, but be still."
"Chloe, Chloe I love you," Tucker screamed just before the current pulled his head under once again.
Ainsley and Chloe huddled together taking comfort in one another as they watched for the men they loved to resurface. Meanwhile as the others watched Abbey their hopes began to dim. Abbey refused to give up though and a moment later the child began to cough and then to cry as she coughed up the water and flailed her arms for her mother.
"She needs to be on her side for a minute," Abbey cautioned, "she's going to upchuck that water any second and then she'll wonder what all the excitement is about, you watch. She's going to be fine."
Sam meanwhile dove down into the murky water, seeing where Tucker's leg was held fast. With strength born of desperation and love for his brother, he ripped apart the vines, feeling them slice into his hands and not caring at that moment as Tucker's leg was free. He grabbed him as best he could and brought him to the surface. Both men now gasping, coughing and gagging.
"Hey aren't there supposed to be alligators in this water?" Ainsley thought aloud a moment later. Just then a shot went off near Sam and Tucker from where the captain had shot an alligator. "Oh hurry!!!" Chloe squealed bouncing about in her panic. "Tucker! Sam! Hurry!"
"Move it boy," Sam gasped, giving Tucker a push toward the boat. Tucker in a last burst of strength neared the boat, and Josh and Charlie stepped over the rail, kneeling down to haul him aboard. Three more of the gators, arroused by the splashing and noise, hit the water just as Sam reached the boat as well, finding because of his cuts he could not close his hands around the rail and hang on.
Josh and Charlie leaned back just in time and pulled Sam aboard. "That's all of us," Leo called and the boat began moving forward again slowly. Ainsley wanted to be in Sam's arms but the stench and the blood was forcing her away. It didn't stop Chloe from being in Tucker's though and she embraced him the second she could reach him. She held on tightly, weeping against him.
Meanwhile Belle, as Abbey had predicted, was now choking and coughing up the water she had swallowed. "Keep her on her side and rub her back," Abbey soothed. "She's going to be fine. When we get back, I'm going to want her to have a broad antibiotic in case of bacteria in the water, but I think she's OK."
"I'm ok, I'm ok," Tucker assured her, trying to see past her to check for Belle. "Chloe, Belle's OK isn't she? It's my fault totally. She pulled away from her--her leash came apart. I couldn't hold her." His own tears began to fall and he clung tightly to her.
"She's fine love," Chloe reassured him. "Abbey says she's alright. I'm worried about you. Are you sure you're okay? God I thought I might never see you again!"
Sam closed his eyes against the pain in his hands, wanting Ainsley but not wanting her to be ill on his account. "I think I need a shower," he said softly. "I can't stand myself."
"I think a shower is in order for a few of you," Ainsley said. She was on her knees sitting on her ankles. Suddenly she gasped and both hands went to her babymound. "It's happening!" she gasped and she smiled as she looked at her stomach.
"My god what's happening?" Sam demanded, dropping beside her despite the blood he was dripping. "Ains are you OK?"
Tucker clung tightly to Chloe, letting his tears fall. "Yeah I was having that same thought myself. That I was going to drown and that I hoped you knew how much I loved you and that I would be waiting in heaven for you."
"I couldn't have done it," Chloe trembled, "I need you. I can't live my life without you. I want to share it with you and I want to carry your children." She threw her arms around him and kissed him long and lovingly.
"The babies," Ainsley smiled. "The babies moved didn't they," Abbey suggested and Ainsley nodded eagerly with a smile.
"Oh wow," Sam breathed, "I thought something was wrong. Oh honey I love you." With that he threw his arms around her, hugging tightly, forgetting totally about how he smelled and the blood he was still dripping.
Ainsley smiled and as Sam held her the babies moved again, only a little flutter but definitely babies. Ainsley was crying happy tears and looking like she'd just been given all of the world.
"I love you so much," Tucker whispered. "But I couldn't let your sister drown either. Especially because it was my fault. And I need to go tell Leo and Caroline how bad I feel."
Chloe placed her hand in his and walked with him to her mother and father's side. Caroline had her hand on Belle's back keeping her on her side.
"Caroline, Leo," Tucker began, kneeling beside them and rubbing Belle's back at the same time. "I am so sorry. This is my fault. Her leash came undone--probably from all the pulling at it they do. I grabbed for her, but she was already overboard and I couldn't hold her. I know you can't forgive me, but I had to tell you how bad I feel about it. If she had died..." He choked hard and tears rolled down his cheeks.
"Tucker," Caroline said calmly, "you had no way of knowing this would happen, none of us did. It could have happened while any of us were watching her. You had the presence of mind to go in after her. You saved my daughter's life and I'm supposed to punish you for that? I was only afraid for a moment that you might be taken from Chloe's life forever. You're a part of this family Tucker, forever." Caroline opened her arms to him and embraced him.
Sam continued to cling to the mother of his babies, resting his hand on her belly. "At some point I have to go clean up," he whispered, "but now it's all over you."
"Sam I need to clean and bandage your hands," Abbey pointed out. "Some of these plants contain bacteria that can cause blood poisoning."
Ainsley jumped back from him immediately and begged him to let Abbey treat him. The boat was soon back at the dock and the service complained of the stench as they piled into the limos and returned to the hotel. Ainsley and Chloe were tightly curled against their beloveds.
"Sam go wash yourself good and then come down and see me," Abbey ordered. "I'm going to give you a shot like I'm giving Belle."
"I don't think so," Sam yelped. "I'm not letting the First Lady..." Ainsley looked at him sharply. "OK I guess I am."
Tucker stopped Caroline in the hall before going to his room. "Caroline, thank you for what you said earlier. I couldn't speak before--too choked up--but it meant everything to me. I love this family, and I'd die myself before I'd let anything hurt it."
Caroline smiled softly, "I know Tucker, why do you think I'm letting you marry my little girl. You rest up and feel better now and call me if you need anything. You saved my little girl's life tonight."
"Thank you," Tucker sniffled and hugged her before melding into Chloe's arms.
Sam and Ainsley retired to their room and Sam immediately ran to the shower, turning the hot water on full. "I reek," he laughed. "And I'm going to be hiding from the first lady for a while I think."
"Sam...." Ainsley scolded, "you don't get to feel the babies 'til you get that shot."
"But the first lady," Sam yelped in protest. At the same time he knew he did not want to get it from a hospital or doctor and have to explain. "OK, but she's going to have to figure out how she can do it blind folded. I'm not inclinded to drop trou in front of the first lady. Now how about you and the babies joining me in here. Now that I'm clean, I can tell I rubbed off on you."
"Are you sure we should," Ainsley began. Sam poked his head out the curtain and she ceased that line of thought. Carefully she undressed and then let him help her into the shower. She didn't mind making a few concessions such as that to his overprotectiveness. After all she too felt the need to be careful for the babies' sake.
"Why wouldn't we shower like this?" Sam asked gently. "Honey I love you and we're going to be married someday. But in the meantime, I'm not going to force myself on you or demand that you make love to me. I love you far too much for that."
"It's not that it's just...well you know the blood and blood poisoning and the babies and their moving and...okay I'm a little overwhelmed right now," Ainsley admitted.
"OK I understand," Sam whispered, wrapping his strong arms over her, his hands resting across the babies. "And thank you for telling me that. I can't know how to help you unless I know what's wrong. Hey maybe Mrs. Bartlet will let you give me the shot."
"I couldn't!" she exclaimed, "oh Sam I don't think you want me to do that. I mean consider how nervous I can get sometimes and for example not that you need any one specific one to make you remember all of the instances but the time that I first met the president and I screamed and threw my drink and..." Ainsley raised a brow at him.
"OK, but promise you'll be there. I need someone to block the President's view of my rear." Sam laughed and hugged her close. "And your nervousness is one of those qualities that endeared me to you the most." And he began to sing Bossa Nova to tease her.
Meanwhile Chloe had drawn a bath for Tucker and she was currently washing him all over while she insisted that he drink the glass of sprite she had brought him.
"I'm sorry I scared you," Tucker said quietly. "I scared myself when I got caught in the weeds, but not as bad as I was scared for Belle. And she must have been terrified. I want to go see her as soon as I'm socially acceptable again, prove to myself that she's OK."
Chloe smiled, "okay. She'll be with Mom and Dad wherever, probably in their rooms. She's really okay though, thanks to you." Chloe hugged him disregarding the fact that she was getting her shirt wet and then she continued to scrub him.
"Well it was almost worth what happened to me for this," he smiled, enjoying thoroughly her attention to him. "In fact..." With that he grabbed her and slid her over the edge of the tub, letting her come down on top of him so that they were pressed together. "I need you Chloe," he whispered tearfully. "I was afraid we weren't going to be together after all."
She embraced him, held to him, pressed herself against him regardless of her clothes now being soaked. "I need you Tucker," she panted back, "I can't wait to marry you. I can't lose you."
"I'm not going anywhere Angel," Tucker promised. "I love you and we're going to be married and have our baby growing really soon now." He adjusted her comfortably and then brought his lips to hers in an electric kiss.
Chloe held him and kissed him as long as she could. "I love you Tucker. I love you and I can't wait to marry you. Only a week...."
"I hope I can wait," Tucker panted. "I mean I've had your body before and I know how wonderful it is and...OK, self control Seaborn. I should add that to my prayer requests. I've been pretty much in touch with the Man non stop since Belle went into the water."
Chloe kissed him. "I know it's getting so hard to wait...last night I almost woke you up and told you we'd take our chances...but then I remember how special it is that we're doing this and..." she sighed and laid her head on his shoulder.
"Yeah it really is, and I don't want a moment of recklessness to spoil it," Tucker answered, kissing her forehead. "I love you and you're more than worth waiting for. Besides it's on our wedding night that we're going to make our baby."
Chloe smiled and kissed him. They finished their bath and then she dried him off.
"You take good care of me my love," Tucker smiled, pulling the towel in a loop around her back and bringing her to him for a long kiss as they finished drying and dressing. "Come on let's go see your sister."
Chloe smiled and with her hand knit in his Chloe walked with Tucker down to see her mother and Belle.
"Sam...Sam you in there?" Josh's voice echoed. "Mrs. Bartlet said to come have your shot."
Sam froze, the Bossa Nova words dying on his lips. "Yeah OK, be right there."
"Come on. I'll be right with you Sam," Ainsley said squeezing his hand. "I love you." She got out of the shower and helped him dry and redress. Then she walked with him to Abbey's room.
Leo answered the door and let them in. Belle was fairly docile in her mother's arms.
"We were just going to take her down to Mrs. Bartlet," Leo said. "She's gotten the injections from the pharmacist."
"Hi Belle," Tucker said softly, kneeling a few feet away from her, afraid that she would now be afraid of him after what he allowed to happen to her.
"Tucker," Belle said her face lighting with its usual smile and she struggled off of Caroline's lap and made her way into Tucker's arms. Chloe smiled. "You see, it's alright. She knows you saved her."
"Thank god," Tucker breathed, feeling tears on his cheeks again. "You know I've cried more this afternoon than I have before in my life." Belle touched his face. "Sad." "No sweetie, happy that you're here." He looked over the small head to Caroline. "Does she remember? What if she has nightmares?"
"Then I'll be up with her tonight," Caroline replied gently, "I don't think she remembers, she hasn't said anything."
"I'd like to be the one who stays with her," Tucker said firmly. "You have enough to be up with Leo. Let's move things around so she and Brighton stay with us. In fact I expect to have a few nightmares of my own. Maybe her and I can comfort each other, with Chloe's help."
Chloe smiled, "yes please mother." Caroline smiled softly, "I don't see any reason why not. You keep a close eye on her though after we have to take her and..." Caroline motioned with her eyes towards the door. Chloe nodded. Belle now had her arms wrapped around Tucker. "Looks like we're all going to go see aunt Abbey," Caroline remarked as she rose walking over to scoop up Leo.
"I'd better be getting a lollipop out of this" Sam muttered, letting Ainsley drag him along and they met up with Belle and her escorts. "Looks like we're all going to the same place."
"And what do we have to look forward to for the evening?" Sam asked.
"Lots of resting and eating in bed," Ainsley said, "and if you're good I'll let you pick the movie...just not another scary one. I don't think the babies could handle it."
"I think Tucker and I are going to play Candy Land with Belle and Brighton and eat in our room too," Chloe spoke up.
They were admitted to the Jed and Abbey's room and Abbey smiled evilly at Sam. "Ok Samuel, and let me tell you, this doesn't go well in the arm."
"Actually I was, well I know I'm not a professional and I don't mean to step on any toes and I'll understand perfectly if you tell me no, but well I was wondering...well if I could give the shot, with your guidance of course," Ainsley spoke up her nerves kicking in.
"Of course, it's very simple," Abbey smiled, "and I think that's an excellent idea."
"OK great. Now let's see," Jed called, laughing gleefully. "I figure $5 to watch from the first ring of spectators, and then $2 a head to stand behind the big spenders."
"I think I'll take the blood poisoning," Sam moaned.
Abbey glared at Jed. "Come on Sam, into the bedroom. You need to kneel across the bed anyway. And then Caroline, we'll do Belle. Looks like she's pretty comfortable in Tucker's arms. I think he can hold her while I dart her real quick."
"Oh she gets held," Sam quivelled. "Well I'm giving you your shot against my better judgement," Ainsley said. Abbey helped get him in place and then readied the needle. Ainsley had only exposed part of one cheek. "Okay now hold still Sam. I promise I'll do my best." She stuck the needle in quickly and infused the infection and then withdrew before Sam really knew what had happened. "All done," Ainsley breathed a sigh of relief.
"And I'm going to give him a prescription for some oral antibiotics as well and just watch for flu like symptoms over the next few days, especially fever," Abbey told them, patting Ainsley's shoulder. "He's going to be fine. After all he's got to coach you through labor here in a few months. I hope you plan to whine fully."
Ainsley looked nervous suddenly. She immediately latched on to Sam. Meanwhile Chloe helped get Belle ready for her shot in Tucker's arms. "She'll take it better this way," Caroline assured him.
"OK but I'm not going to look," Tucker groaned, pressing Belle's head down onto his shoulder. Expertly Abbey put the needle in and Belle's scream pierced Tucker's ear. Then it was over as quickly as it had started. "OK little girl, you're OK," Tucker soothed, wiping her face, though he was shaking all over and he sank weakly into the nearest chair, keeping the little one tightly in his arms while reaching for Chloe at the same time.
Belle continued to see fit to cry and Chloe joined her fiance, rubbing her little sister's tiny back with one hand as she held his with her other. "Thank-you Tucker," Caroline said with a soft smile. The rubbing on her back had a quick soothing affect with Belle and she was soon reduced to merely sniffles.
"I think we all got off very lucky," Jed said softly, looking over his gathered family.
"Amen" Tucker breathed, snuggling with both Belle and Chloe.
"And it hasn't been that bad a day either," Sam chortled suddenly, though he was still rubbing his backside. "Our babies moved today remember."
Ainsley beamed brightly, "they did." "Here," Abbey said and she handed Sam her stethoscope, "have a listen."
"Really?" Sam gingerly took the instrument while Ainsley bared the top of her belly and his face took on a look of awe and wonder when he heard their heartbeats plus the swooshing of their movements. "That's the most...well it's just incredible, that's all," he gasped.
Josh had been standing quietly, his arm around Donna, and now looked intently at her. "You think we could do that?"
"Sure," Donna smiled, "the babies already move." "Sam, can I have a listen please?" Ainsley finally asked, smiling at the look of wonder on his face.
"Get your own," Sam teased, and then gently placed the ends in Ainsley's ears. "See? It's nothing short of amazing."
Ainsley looked down at her taut skin where the stethoscope was and then up at Sam, her face covered over with sheer wonder. "This is...this is....well there just aren't any words." She began to cry softly, tears of joy.
Sam hugged her as tightly as he could, pressing her forehead to his chest. "It's beautiful. Our babies are alive and well in there."
"Owww," Josh yelped, having been pinched by Donna. "Yes I know you want to too sweetie but you have to wait your turn like the other boys and girls. Sammy and Ainsley are playing right now. Would you like to do a puzzle while you wait?"
Donna glared at him. Ainsley finished then and passed the stethoscope along. "We should buy one of those," she commented before she led Sam back towards their room to put him on bedrest. "Now what are we going to order for dinner because believe me when I say I'm starving."
"Yeah I'm hungry too," Sam sighed, still rubbing his shot. "I'd ask you to kiss that, but you'd smack me so I'll settle for us ordering dinner instead. I think I'll have etoufee, with those things I'm not allowed to mention; and a big salad with a lot of cheese and lunch meat stuff and olives."
The president's room had cleared out except for Josh and Donna, and Josh was positioning the stethoscope on Donna's belly, wanting to hear it and then pass it to her so she could. For the longest time he moved it around. When he looked up his face was frightened. "I'm not hearing anything. Nothing at all here."
"What do you mean you're not hearing anything?!" Donna exclaimed, "you must have it in the wrong spot... Abbey?" Donna questioned Josh's fear making her alarmed as well.
"Josh do not upset the pregnant lady," Jed called.
"The pregnant father is upset enough for both of us," Josh retorted. "Honest I'm not hearing anything."
Abbey shook her head and walked over, taking the stethoscope to her ears and then placing it on the part of Donna's belly she had uncovered. Abbey drew a deep breath. "OK," she spoke calmly. "This is not the best angle to do this. Donna go into the bed room and take your pants off and put your feet up like you were in stirrups. I'll be right there."
Donna looked warily at Abbey but then went to do as she'd been told. She undressed her lower half and uncovered the babymound after closing the door and then she got up in the stirrup position and winced at the idea that always brought forth.
"Josh you should come in with her," Abbey motioned. "Just in case."
Josh's eyes were wide with fear as he slipped in with Abbey, taking his place at Donna's head, resting his hands lightly in her hair.
Abbey moved the stethoscope around her entire belly, not finding anything. "Donna, Donna, try to relax," she encouraged. "I know you're scared."
"Scared doesn't even begin to explain it," Donna said. Nevertheless she took a few deep breaths and tried to relax. "What's happened?" she asked tearily.
"You're so tense all through here the babies couldn't move if they wanted," Abbey said softly, stroking her abdomen. "Josh lend a hand here. In fact come here and do this while I keep checking. Let her lean against you and reach around her to the babies." Josh did as he was told, though he was almost too terrified to move. "Guys daddy's here," he said softly, pressing and then rubbing with gentle hands. "Deep slow breaths Donna," Abbey encouraged. After what seemed like an hour she took the earpieces down and passed them to Donna. "OK little mother, here you go."
Donna wrinkled her face and frowned a minute and then smiled. "They're making noises Josh! There's noise!" She quickly passed the stethoscope to Josh.
"Oh thank god," Josh gasped. "Thank you." He sniffled back a quick tear and then hugged Donna tight before he listened too. "Mrs. Bartlet are they really OK," he gasped.
She nodded and smiled. "I suspect they were asleep, and then Donna's tenseness made it even harder to hear. You likely have one baby larger than the others, and he was probably blocking the other two, and sound asleep besides." She got up and patted both their shoulders. "Take a few minutes and connect here. I know you two were scared."
"I was terrified," Josh whispered to her when they were alone, helping her to pull up her pants and then cradling her on his lap.
"Oh Josh. I couldn't even think when I thought we had done something, that I had done something to your babies," Donna gasped.
"Even if that had happened, it wouldn't have been your fault," he reminded her. "You've been taking super good care of these precious lives. I guess we kind of got a taste of what CJ and Toby must be going through, and they don't even know for sure there is a baby yet."
"Poor Toby and CJ," Donna sighed.
The party in question were in their suite. "Are we ready for the dinner tomorrow night? Ready to do a little dancing?" CJ asked, quickly zipping the dress bag she'd been in and standing in front of it as though it wasn't already hidden.
"Come over to this bed and I'll do a little dance with you right now" Toby growled playfully, looking up from where he was sprawled on the bed reading. "But yes of course I am. You know I'm always ready to hold a beautiful woman in my arms. That reminds me. Have to ask Caroline if I can have a dance." One hundred twenty pounds of press secretary landed on him in one fell swoop.
"Toby Zeigler I ought to," CJ growled before she kissed him passionately.
"You and what army," Toby grinned, tossing aside his magazine and returning her kiss. "You're at your most beautiful when you're giving somebody hell you know that."
CJ growled and then smiled before she kissed him again. "I love you so much." She kissed him. Then suddenly she winced and her hand went to her abdomen.
"Honey what?" Toby's alarm was immediate and intense. "Did I hurt you? Did you hurt yourself when you jumped on me? Talk to me Claudia Jean."
"Cramps," Claudia gasped, "cramps."
"Normal cramps, like you get every month and have that day when no one can be with in twenty feet of you and live, or something more?" Toby gasped, at the same time moving her off him and laying her down on the bed. "Should I get Abbey?"
"I guess they're normal but they feel worse than normal," CJ grunted out.
"OK, lay still now," Toby soothed, trying to massage her abdomen at the same time as stroking her forehead in comfort. "Tell me how to help you. Do you need Abbey? Are you bleeding?"
CJ sighed, "Yes, I'm bleeding... if I was pregnant I'm not anymore..." CJ excused herself and returned a few minutes later in a half hunched position in her comfortable PJs. When she laid back on the bed he could hardly get her uncurled but after a few minutes of his gentle rubbing she seemed to be doing a little better.
Toby fitted himself around her, curling his legs around hers and pressing his back to her chest, his hand continuing to rub her belly. After a few moments of silence he nuzzled at her neck. "So do you think you just miscarried here?" he asked gently.
"I don't know," CJ sighed, "Oh Toby," she whimpered and then he could feel her tears dropping on his arm.
With the corner of the bed sheet, Toby dabbed gently at her eyes. "I guess we'll never know. But honey we said we would not bring a child into this world to live a miserable existence. I figure God took over here. If there was a baby, his tiny soul is in heaven now. And if there wasn't, well then we have our whole chance ahead of us yet to have a strong and healthy one." Toby's face was wet now as well and he snuggled more deeply with her.
CJ had stayed in her suite all day Thursday with Toby at her side. Chloe and Tucker had done all of the running that needed to be done.
CJ was now much improved and the women were all dressing for the evening. She was the first to join the men in the lounge. She had on a backless gold beaded gown with a part all the way down between her breasts in the center. She looked absolutely radiant.
"Toby Ziegler if you don't marry this woman I will," Leo declared. "Hello CJ. We missed you yesterday. You were taking a day of down time?" Toby meanwhile stood speechless, watching her make her entrance.
"I believe that would be polygamy Leo and why when you already have such a beautiful wife," CJ quipped with her usually brilliant smile, "and yes I was stealing a much needed down day yesterday. I apologize and promise to make it up to you with a dance tonight."
"I could handle both of you," Leo returned with his usual dry wit. "I'm glad to see you now. And I'm holding you to that dance. And speaking of my wife, that would be her and my daughter I do believe. With their hair upswept in similar styles, Chloe and Caroline walked in together.
Caroline was dressed in a dress of rose. It had a square neck and a conservative cut with a matching empire waist length, short sleeved jacket. Chloe had on a dress in baby pink. It hugged all of her curves. It was a brilliant oriental satin with a dangerously high slit up the side, a string tie halter neck and no back to her waist.
"I don't want to see any of you men looking at my fiancee's leg," Tucker muttered. "That's for my view only, and that's quite a view."
"Yes it is." Charlie agreed at once, making an effort to move his eyes upward.
"Looking for me?" Zoey's voice floated into the room. She had extensions in her hair which made it fall to the middle of her back. Her gown was a white Halter top number with nothing but strings in a shoelace style up her back from the small of it. The skirt had an hour glass sort of look to it, loose between the hips and the knees, coming in sort of at the knees and then going full again to the floor. The gown was white and Zoey looked like an angel.
"What is going on with you women?" Josh and Sam were not waiting with the other men, but rather in Sam's suite, and Donna and Ainsley had locked themselves in the bed room. "Ladies," Sam tried again and then shrugged.
"You know Josh, you and I may have to be each other's date at this rate."
"I'm not wearing the corsage," Josh replied.
"There is too such a thing as looking too pregnant," Donna whispered nearly in tears.. "I've grown six inches since we bought this the other day."
Ainsley frowned and checked the inside tag. "No, you've grabbed the wrong dress." The women traded dresses and put on the ones that had their names in the tag. They still frowned. "I can't go to my first official out of DC White House function like this," Ainsley moaned. She opened up another suit bag that she had brought with her and in a moment slipped on another gown. This one was coffee brown silk. It had a daringly low v neckline that showed of her increased bust and a cowl neck in the back. It also came with a sheer wrap with clear beading on it. "Still too pregnant?" She asked as she turned around nervously to Donna.
"I guess we can let the guys judge," Donna sighed. "But I know what you mean. The last thing I want is for Josh to be ashamed of me. I'd rather sit here in front of the TV with a quart of rocky road."
Ainsley looked Donna over, "you look beautiful graceful and elegant though. on your height the baby looks natural. Me I'm all baby and it's horrible. I hope Sam will be honest and just tell me I can't go."
"Should we take the bathroom by force?" Sam suddenly suggested, an idea born of waiting too long on the end of the bed.
Josh reached back and pounded the door. "You women are keeping the president waiting by now. Come on let's move it. Has one of you got their big toe stuck in the bathtub faucet or something?"
"Well I'm not going without you. Maybe we should just order two quarts of that and watch an adult movie for laughs on the pay per view." Donna was nearly in tears again.
"Josh your significant other is having a pregnancy moment and I'm not much better," Ainsley said. She came out and drug Donna with her. "Okay tell us we look fat and terrible."
"You look fat and terrible," Josh said with a barely straight face as he pulled Donna into his arms. "And what I really mean is that you look beautiful and gloriously pregnant with my babies and I love you."
"What he said," Sam grinned as well, taking Ainsley to his chest and smoothing her long hair.
Ainsley smiled, "you really mean it? You think we look alright?"
"You both look beautiful," Josh assured them. "And I can't wait to dance with both of you tonight. See I can dance a few with Ainsley, or even CJ, because I know who I'll be holding in my arms when we come back to our room."
"And Charlie doesn't mind that?" Sam teased.
Ainsley laughed, "and I thought I was bad." The two couples made their way down to join the others.
Abbey however preceeded their arrival. She appeared wearing a silver and black beaded gown with an empire waist to hide her thickened natural one and a scooped neckline with a modestly alluring slit up the side.
"Must be a night for legs," Jed smiled, hurrying to take his wife in his arms. "Twenty Five years married, pregnant again, and you still look beautiful like on our wedding day."
Abbey kissed him long and lovingly, "and I still love you just as much as I did that day, probably more if its possible." She touched her forehead to his. "You'll keep an eye on me tonight?" she said softly. "I don't want anyone getting suspicious and it certainly wouldn't do for me to pass out or something. That would start all kinds of false press and speculation."
"I'll stick to you like stink on...well never mind." Jed smiled and hugged her to him. "I love you, and if you start feeling bad, you tell me. There is nothing more important than your well being."
Abbey smiled, "I love you." She turned to everyone else. "Okay ladies and gentlemen, let's go have some fun. We have a party to enjoy and your official orders from the first lady are to enjoy it."
They headed for the elevator.
The giant ballroom on the first floor of the hotel was heavily restricted and guarded. Only an elite few were allowed in. Everyone looked around at all of the balloons and decorations that had been put together.
"Wow," Chloe gasped for all of them.
Charlie felt Zoey wrap herself around him and he smiled and kissed her forehead. "It's beautiful and I love you."
Sam held on to Ainsley's hand as tightly as he could. "You're my beautiful pregnant fiancee and I love you," he whispered, looking down at her ringless finger. "At least that's what I want you to be."
Ainsley followed his gaze and smiled, "You know...I think I could handle that Sam. In fact I think I'd love it."
'L is for the way you look tonight...' the music began to play. Chloe and Tucker immediately took to the floor with Jed and Abbey and CJ and Toby, nothing had to be said between those three couples.
Sam guided Ainsley out onto the floor, gliding over to the giant picture windows with her. "I wasn't saying that to get you into bed," he said with a quick smile. "I love you Ainsley. And I want us to be married."
Ainsley smiled, "I know Sam, I know and I love you too very much and I'd like for us to get married too, and not just for the babies either I mean, if that's what you thought I was thinking, or were you, was that what I was supposed to be thinking," she hurried through her words in that nervous manner she sometimes lapsed into.
"I got lost somewhere around paragraph 3, subtext 4," Sam teased. "And it has nothing to do with the babies, because I would be their father and they would be half mine regardless. It has everything to do with you, and how much I love you, and how much I want the four of us to be a family."
Ainsley smiled and her eyes sparkled and then she kissed Sam long and lovingly. "Samuel Jacob Seaborn, you're amazing. You're amazing and furthermore I love you and I'm in love with you."
"I'm glad we had this tonight," CJ said softly, "I guess it's time for me to be up and about...after all there's always next month maybe."
Toby looked deeply into her beautiful eyes. "Claudia Jean soon to be Ziegler, I'm so much in love with you. And of course there's this month and next for that matter. You're going to have a baby growing inside you before long, two if I can help it."
"I adore and cherish you," Sam whispered. "My life was empty before that day on that TV sound stage. I've debated the best your party has to offer, but never had I come up against the likes of you."
CJ raised a brow, "twins? you really want twins hmm?" She smiled, "maybe you'll get your wish then. I don't really care so long as I get one soon."
"I'm just saying if I can do anything about it," Toby grinned. "Besides look at Sam and Josh. I'm as much a man as they are. Triplets for Josh even. I still can't figure how he did that."
CJ scoffed, "oh my goodness, you men are having a race aren't you? Now look here Mr. Zeigler. I am not, and I repeat not doing quadruplets. I don't care what it does for your ego." She teased.
"Well then talk to my guys," he teased back. "I mean it's not like I have any say so. I'm verile. What can I say."
CJ shook her head and smiled at him before she kissed him.
"You do love me don't you," he grinned.
"Toby, I thought that was obvious by now," CJ parried back, kissing him again.
Ainsley smiled, "and I just knew you hated me...I mean we got off to such a bad start. Of course then it didn't matter because I wanted to cream you but..."
"And I let you," Sam teased. "I let you walk all over me just so you'd like me."
"Really?" Ainsley inquired in that unassured way of hers. "You really wanted me to like you? I thought you hated me."
"I wanted you to start falling in love with me just as I was you," he smiled softly. "But for me, when it really happened, was when those guys put those dead flowers on your desk. I never in my life before wanted to kill two men as much as I did right that minute."
"That's when you became my knight in Armani and I started realizing that I was having feelings for you. Of course I thought I was crazy, I mean not that liking you is a bad thing but more the case that the possibility of you ever liking me back made me crazy and..."
"You've had me forever," he assured her, kissing the tip of the pert nose. "I have never in my life known anyone like you though--not all through college or law school or anything. One look at you and I was so wrapped up in you. And besides, no one but some one I was falling in love with could infuriate me like you do." He kissed her once more and turned quiet. "And when you walked out of my life so fast, I was devastated."
Ainsley stopped dancing, "I'm sorry Sam. I didn't know what to do. Will you walk with me over to the ladies room over there?"
"Hey I didn't say that to blame you," he assured her hastily, "only to let you know how much you meant to me even back then. And yes of course I will walk you anywhere my love." He laughed and picked up her hand swinging her arm.
Ainsley smiled jubilantly and walked with him to the door of the ladies room. Then she disappeared from his sight for a few minutes before returning. Regretfully she had a trail of toilet paper stuck to her heel that she was unaware of.
Sam had been awaiting her re-appearance, and Josh and Donna were approaching as she was coming out. Donna pointed it out to Josh, who tried without great success to suppress a smile, then nudged Sam as he was about to wrap his arm around Ainsley for the walk back to the ballroom. "Ains, hold up," he smiled. "You're trailing a streamer."
"A wha-? Oh you've got to be kidding me. Oh I'm totally mortified. Can I ever have an evening wherein I actually present myself well and don't embarrass the entire staff before it's half over," She was now a deep red in the face. "Please get it off," she pleaded to Sam.
"You hold on to Sam and lift your foot," Josh smiled. "I'll take care of it. Unless you'd rather hold on to me, and let Sam do it," he added slyly.
"Oh for godsake," Sam groaned and held her around her waist. "Please Josh, so we can get on with our evening." >>
"I'm sorry," Ainsley apologized. She began to sniffle. Then Donna started to sniffle and at a look from Josh squeaked, "What?! It's contagious!"
"Well then let this be the same thing," Sam smiled and kissed Ainsley. "Honey you worry too much. I love you, and the rest of the staff thinks you're great. In fact you my love are a breath of fresh air in what can be a stuffy place at times. You and Donna here and CJ make it bearable."
Ainsley finally smiled softly, "really?" at Sam's nod he earned a kiss. Then the two couples returned to the dance floor.
Josh and Donna nodded to Caroline and Leo as they passed. Caroline looked especially radiant. "You know for a little while there I thought we were going to be looking at a funeral for a little girl," he said softly when they were out of earshot. "I swear I didn't breathe myself that whole time. I kept thinking what if it was one of ours in a couple years."
"Oh Josh!" Donna gasped her face contorting in horror at the thought. Then she timidly added with a tremble, "what if it was one of ours in a few months. What if I mess up, what if they don't all make it Josh?"
"Now that I don't have a single concern about," Josh assured her, rubbing his face against her cheek. "You have wonderful medical care, and you're doing everything you're supposed to. That's not to say something couldn't happen--we never know what sort of trouble God is going to send--but it sure won't be your fault." He rested his hand on her belly. "Other than you, never have I wanted something so bad as I do these babies though, and I'm going to do everything I can too to make sure they're whole and healthy when they're born."
Donna smiled softly, his reassurance was making her feel better. "Thank-you. I just. I feel the need to worry so much lately."
"And you keep right on worrying. In the first place you're adorable when you do, and in the second, it keeps you doing good things like eating right. And while you're doing all that, I'm going to walk around with you as proud as I've felt in my life that these are my babies." He lowered his voice and added, "and that you wanted them so bad as to risk prison to try for them."
Donna trembled lightly and then smiled at him. Then she whispered back, "It couldn't have been as bad as all that...I was just borrowing them. I was going to give them back...well sort of."
"But you committed breaking and entering at the first least," he smiled. "Of course I would have gotten you off. I still maintain by Bar status. I just wish you had come to me. Did you think I was going to record the conversation and play it at the next senior staff?"
Caroline moved close to CJ at the buffet table, with Abbey right behind. "CJ you OK? You're kind of quiet. Is there anything we can do?"
CJ looked up momentarily and then back to the buffet table. "No I'm fine. There's no problem." She said softly and quickly, knowing it for the lie it was.
"You don't look fine," Abbey frowned. "In fact you look kind of flushed. I know it's warm in here, but still....You were pretty sick there for a few hours when that drug was in you. It wouldn't be unusual for you to still have a few residual effects. Have something cold and non-alcoholic maybe. And let me know if I can help."
CJ sighed and turned to Abbey, her eyes said there was something to say but her mouth wouldn't let it out. "Thank-you ma'am," she gave a fake smile and got a drink before walking over to a chair and sitting gracefully. Suddenly this wasn't where she wanted to be. She really just wanted to be up in bed but that was out of the question. Maybe she should have gotten a drink with alcohol, after all, what did it matter now? She sighed.
"That man could talk the hinges off a barn door," Toby muttered when he finally located CJ. "I finally told him to have his people call my people. And then I got away before he could tell me he didn't have people. OK, I'm finally yours but you don't look ready to dance. Now what can I do?"
CJ sighed, "Tell me it's going to come again...our chance..." she said softly, sadly. "I don't feel much like celebrating Toby..."
"No we don't have anything to celebrate in that regard," he agreed softly, "but we have our love, each other, the love of good friends in this room. And it is going to happen again. Or for the first time which ever. You will carry my child. That's a promise to you. And if for some reason we don't seem to manage it naturally after a few months, Georgetown Hospital is just down the road, and I don't give a damn if that sort of thing isn't covered by insurance."
CJ looked up and smiled, "Really Toby? Thank-you. Thank-you for knowing how much this means to me."
"Yes really. Sometimes mother nature needs a little help. One way or another, you shall have my child." He kissed her nose and then the corner of her mouth. "May I have a dance?"
"Of course you may," CJ smiled, "as many as you want for the rest of our lives." She walked with him onto the dance floor and curled lovingly in his arms, allowing him to cuddle her, his arms around her shutting out the terrors of the world around them.
"You've always been the best dancer I've ever known," Toby whispered. "You're light and graceful and easy on a man's feet. Why don't you tell me about our wedding."
"Our wedding," CJ smiled, "I see our wedding as being in a cathedral, me in an outrageously expensive, fairy-tale looking type gown, you men in tuxedos, most of our dear friends in the wedding, the others on the front row. The church will be packed. Then afterwards a ballroom reception for only our special guests."
"I should be taking notes," Toby smiled. "You want to be married at St. Patricks in New York? That's what I think of when I hear cathedral."
CJ smiled, "precisely, that would be wonderful. Hopefully we can get it arranged soon and get it fit in before the bus gets started."
"I don't see why not. You know it's amazing how much attention a request on White House stationery garners. You pick the date and I'll write the letter as soon as we get back. I see it as a whole weekend--Plaza hotel, all our friends and then the wedding trip which at the moment I'm clueless on. As for your gown, are you thinking Paris or Rome there?"
"Paris probably," CJ smiled, "something large and lovely and once in a lifetime. After all I'm only doing it once."
"Then should we notify a couple of the designers we'll be over to check out their offerings, say in a week or so?" he asked. "You want an original I'm guessing, right? We can fax your measurements or something."
CJ suddenly froze and looked at him. "An original designer gown, Toby do you have any idea what kind of an expense we're talking here. You'd have to take out a loan. I mean..." she seemed absolutely floored and amazed by the offer.
"I see it as a quick weekend in Paris," he grinned. "And I have a very large investment account that can handle it easily. Not to mention, this gown is going to be worn in a wedding attended by the First Family. Shouldn't that be worth a discount?"
CJ looked like she might cry but finally decided on smiling though two tears escaped anyhow. "Toby Zeigler I love you so very much. You're an amazing man." Then she kissed him long and lovingly.
Donna sighed, "No I thought you were going to freak out and then start yelling at me about how I had no right and then turn me in or something..." she frowned.
"I'm sorry," Josh said sincerely. "Sorry that I gave off that impression. Truth is, I would have been flattered and honored, and it would have saved me from getting up the courage to ask you, which is what I'd been wanting to do for six months."
"You were going to ask me to have your baby?" Donna questioned with surprise.
"Yeah as soon as I got up the nerve, which knowing me might not have been until sometime around 2005 but at least the thought was there. I was going to tell you I thought you and I should go halfsies on a baby."
Donna smiled, "I would have said yes you know. I might would have been shocked at first but I would have said yes."
"I know you would have now," he smiled and kissed her forehead. "But you already considered me an idiot, I didn't want to add to that assessment of me. Give you something you could use at my commitment hearing. Actually what made me start thinking of it was when I was shot."
Donna looked at him intently, waiting for him to continue his thought.
"And I started thinking about my own mortality, and how if I croaked right this minute, there wasn't anyone to mourn me," he smiled sheepishly. "See, for a while there, when I was going in and out, I really did believe I was dying."
"We were afraid you were," Donna said solemnly.
"So was my doctor I guess," Josh sighed. "I don't remember much about that time, except....except a beautiful blonde who wouldn't let go of my hand even when the doctors ordered her to go home and rest. That I do remember, in full living color."
"I couldn't leave you Josh. I've loved you for a long time," Donna said, "Thankfully the doctors had pity on me."
"Well I figured that when they started asking me if we were joined at the hip," he grinned and then turned serious. "Donna, you were the one thing that got me through that. Having you there. I was making myself recover, making myself come back, with the vow that I would tell you how I felt--how much I loved you, just as soon as I could do so when not under the influence of drugs."
"Are you under the influence of drugs?" She suddenly felt the need to tease and lighten the atmosphere. Then she kissed him, "I love you and I'm glad you came back. I don't think I could have handled being without you."
He took her hands, kissing each one. "You are the reason I came back," he said solemnly, "Now let's check out some food for you. I see Sam and Ainsley ahead of us already."
"What do you think is wrong with CJ?" Caroline asked Abbey gently, her voice filled with concern.
"I'm not sure, but I suspect she's having some reaction to the drug yet. That wouldn't be unusual," Abbey sighed. "Or it could have something to do with a pregnancy. Maybe she found out she was; or maybe she found out she was but isn't any longer. Or maybe she just doesn't know for sure. Plus, she's bearing a lot of guilt there. I hope she and Toby start planning their wedding, and I hope she gets pregnant as soon as possible."
Caroline nodded. "If she did miscarry she's going to need something to get her over the disappointment and the loss. I hope Toby understands that. I wish she would come and talk...CJ seems so nice."
"I've known CJ a good long time," Abbey nodded. "She's a wonderful woman, and this hit her hard. But she's also kind of private. She tends to mother everyone around her and then forgets she herself needs to be looked after sometimes. I'd be very glad if she'd come talk to us. We can see if we can invite her to go to the coffee bar maybe. Even if she doesn't talk we can just let her know we're there."
Caroline nodded, "That's a wonderful idea, maybe tonight after this is over, a bunch of us women can get together and unwind...maybe that would encourage her."
"I'll pass the word. I'm going to call it an invitation from the first lady," Abbey smiled. "Most of the time I'm not turned down for such things. And there's my first victim, my own daughter. Zoey, get over here."
Zoey excused herself from the group she was talking with, including her own husband and stepped over. "Yes mother?" she replied.
"We're having a women's all-nighter, or however long we can last, when this gathering is over. In fact I think...OK here's what we're doing. After we're done here, all of us are going to get into comfortable clothes or pajamas and meet for coffee and girl talk. It's not often we're all together and I think we can use the time together."
Zoey smiled, "Okay, it's a deal. I'll leave the men to fend for themselves and I'll be there."
Meanwhile Caroline walked over to Sam and Ainsley. "Ainsley, Mrs. Bartlet has decided we're going to have a girl's night after this. Come in your pajamas. Will you join us." Ainsley looked to Sam.
"I'd love to," Sam grinned. "What's the dress code? Boxers OK? Should I bring a nosh?"
"A nosh?" both women asked. Then Caroline added, " sorry Sam but it's a women's night, as in women only..."
"I knew that," Sam grinned, "but I was inviting myself because I don't like the idea of my pregnant fiancee out of my sight."
Caroline raised an eyebrow and Ainsley giggled.
"Well it's almost official," he yelped
Ainsley smiled, "Sam I'll be fine. In fact I'll take my phone and if I need you I'll call you. I'll just be down the hall." She giggled lightly.
"Well if I'm not permitted I'm getting Josh and we're going to the Quarter for women," Sam teased, spotting them and motioning them over. "Josh get this, the women are having a hen party--that's what my mom called it--so I thought you and I would go to a strip club."
Josh had to look twice at him to be sure he was kidding, feeling Donna's hands tighten around his arm.
"Joshua Lyman," Donna said reminding him with whom he was dealing. Then she turned to Caroline. "That's a wonderful idea," she smiled. Caroline was quick to reply, "well thank-you but actually it was the First Lady's idea." "I'll be there," Donna said and Ainsley nodded her agreement.
"Well at least there will be plenty of women to look after you," Josh sighed and Sam nodded, sharing his concern. "Caroline Sam and I just aren't real comfortable with them out of our sight, but we know we can't hover over them all the time, though between us we almost make it."
"Josh I don't think anything's going to happen to them in the space of a few hours. They're only four months along. I don't believe either of them is going to go into labor. You can relax. Don't drive them crazy this early in the pregnancy, you'll have nothing left for when they're seven or eight months..." Caroline laughed lightly. "I've been through four pregnancies men. They'll be fine."
Josh looked to Sam and laughed. "So they're being looked after just fine? Then let's go get drunk. And I know I'm going to pay for saying that." Donna's heel landed on his instep at that moment. "We'll behave, promise," he yelped.
"Now we need CJ," Caroline looked around.
"I just want you to have the wedding you've dreamed of," Toby smiled. "You're only going to do it once and it's going to last our lifetime. So if part of that dream is to wear a Paris original gown, then what's the big deal. Besides I wouldn't mind a weekend in Paris with you. It will be good practice for our wedding trip."
CJ smiled, "Okay then, next weekend...we can talk to the President and request the leave. I don’t want to be too out of pocket at all until after we get the president re-elected."
"Sounds good to me. If we do a lot of the preliminary by phone and fax we shouldn't be that long. We'll take the overnight flight back Sunday night, sleeping aboard, and just need to fresh up to work Monday."
CJ smiled, "You helped more than you realized Toby, thank-you." That's when they were approached by Caroline, Donna, Ainsley and then Abbey joined the group. CJ looked at all of them a little curious as to what was up.
"Toby we're kidnapping your fiancee," Abbey announced. "All the women are coming for coffee and talk in the living room of the big suite. That means you men have to relocate. Including my husband. I suggest an all night poker party as an alternative to Sam and Josh's idea to go to a strip club."
"Seconded," Donna spoke up.
"Thirded," Ainsley added.
"Agreed," Caroline inserted.
"Definitely," Zoey said forcefully.
"Fourthed," CJ put in and Abbey merely gave Jed 'the look'.
"Now when can we slip out of here?" Zoey asked.
Jed smiled and held up his hand for quiet in the guests. "Ladies and gentlemen, my wife and daughter, along with the wives and fiancees of my senior staff, and those who are senior staff, are now going to a party of their own apparently so I'd like all of you to join me in giving them a token of our appreciation for the fine job they do, and the fact that they not only put up with us men, but come back for more."
The women all looked embarrassed as everyone clapped but they smiled and bid everyone good evening and went back up to their private floor. The women were out of their formal gowns and into their pajamas as soon as they could manage it.
"Boy does it feel good to be out of that gown," Ainsley sighed. "I swear the babies couldn' t breath in there." She looked longingly at the assortment of coffee and pastry the hotel had laid out. "And I think just for tonight, I'm going to enjoy something with both chocolate and caffeine, so look out babies, here it comes."
"Choclate and caffine, sounds good," Abbey smiled, "I think I'll have some of that." CJ meanwhile had curled up quietly in one of the chairs and was lost in thought. Caroline nudged Abbey gently and nodded towards CJ. "I think I want..." Donna said her eyes glazing over as she stared at the menu with Ainsley. "One of everything?" Ainsley supplied in jest.
"YES," Donna yelped. "The prime rib dinner was so long ago it was just a memory, and Josh ate half mine anyway. OK, let's have one of each and you and I will split and share."
"Deal," Ainsley eagerly agreed.
Abbey and Caroline strolled casually over and sat on either side of CJ. "Our press secretary is pretty quiet," Abbey smiled. "I saw you and Toby talking pretty seriously earlier though, and you were at least a little happier then. So what's going on with you and him. Wedding plans?"
"Yeah," CJ smiled wistfully, "he was promising me the world earlier in light of the fact that I probably miscarried his child."
"OK I wasn't expecting that," Abbey said after a few deep breaths. "CJ I'm so sorry. Did you see someone? I mean were you checked over?"
"No...I mean we don't really know if I was ever pregnant or not," she sighed.
"Can I ask you what happened?" Abbey asked gently. "Did you have cramps and bleeding?" Caroline squeezed her hand as Abbey was speaking.
"Terrible cramps and bleeding," CJ said softly. She sighed. "It came so suddenly...I've never had ones like these before."
"And when you were bleeding, it was heavy bleeding, thicker like maybe than you would have expected from a normal period?" Abbey squeezed her hand as well, and her face showed how badly she hated to ask those questions.
CJ nodded and two tears escaped down her cheeks.
Abbey dropped a warm arm around her shoulders. "OK honey, easy now. It sounds for sure like you did, but that may have been from nature and not the drug. What I want you to do now is when we go back to DC, I want you to go to your OB and have a good check up, including a uterine ultra sound. Sometimes a miscarraige doesn't fully empty, and what's left can cause infection and prevent future pregnancies. Promise me you'll go make sure you're not going to have future problems."
"But Toby..." CJ sniffled, "he can't even suspect. Just thinking that it could have possibly been is tearing him up. To know for sure would kill him...he might blame himself...might not want to try again..."
"Doesn't sound like that should be a problem. You can slip out to the doctor one day next week," Caroline spoke up. "I'll go with you. It'll give you and me a good excuse to have lunch one day."
CJ smiled, "Thank-you Caroline. I...I'm sorry I've been acting so terrible it's just with all of the babies around me and Donna and Ainsley and...well it's just...it's a little hard." CJ sniffled and wiped her cheeks again.
"It's very hard," Abbey agreed. "And it's not going to get much easier. Even as you're trying again, you'll probably still mourn this baby. Your OB will be able to tell if you were pregnant and then you can go seriously deal with it. You might want to even have a small prayer service."
CJ gave both women a gentle smile. "I think maybe I'm better off with the delusion that maybe it wasn't, maybe it was just a little fluke of my biological clock."
"Still, go be checked," Abbey urged. "Just be sure you're healthy before you start another pregnancy."
CJ smiled, "I promise ma'am. ...And Abbey, Caroline...thanks."
"You're welcome, now let’s eat something fat and chocolate," Caroline grinned, rubbing her hands together.
"Hey I want to feel again," Chloe said where she was sitting on the bed with Donna and Ainsley. "This is SO amazing. I'm SO envious!"
"You're time will come," Donna smiled. "It is amazing though absolutely, and of course you can feel. It's good for the babies to have that contact." She leaned back and spread her gown over the babies so that there were no folds and nodded to Chloe.
Chloe placed her hands on either side and her face filled with wonder and definite envy. Then she gently roamed her hands over Donna's baby mound. She was in heaven. She laid her head down a moment to see what she could hear.
"You hear them gurgling?" Donna smiled. "That's what Josh says. He hears swimming sounds. Of course before he was messing with the stethoscope and we didn't hear anything. Scared me to death."
Ainsley shuddered at that thought and looked to Chloe. "So you think Donna and I will still make suitable bridesmaids even as we start to waddle?"
Chloe smiled, "Of course, the best and isn't it a blessing at a wedding to have a pregnant bridesmaid? I'll be doubly lucky. I get two and after all it's only a week away."
"As long as waddling is allowed," Donna smiled. "I don't seem to be able to manage much else. Four months but there's more than one. Zoey I wish sometimes I was small like you were the whole time. You just had the adorable pouch. Me I look like the Great Pumpkin already."
"But you're carrying triplets," Zoey smiled, "besides I didn't think I was that small when I was pregnant with Charles. I felt huge, but I loved it." "Oh I'm so envious I can taste it," Chloe spoke up.
"It was a magical time," Zoey agreed softly, "even with bachaches, feet swelling, morning sickness, and labor. Charlie was so great to me through that. And I know Josh and Sam will be to you two as well."
"What do you think they're talking about?" Sam paced the floor one more time.
"Sam sit, pot's light and it's you," Leo ordered. "Whatever they're talking about we're never going to know."
"Besides it's just woman things like swollen ankles and craving food," Jed sighed.
"Mr. President you haven't really said much about becoming a dad again at your age," Josh prompted.
"I think it's wonderful," Jed said smiling again, "After all if Leo can do it why can't I? I'm a little worried about getting Abbey through this early part but after that it'll be smooth sailing and I plan to be there when she's in labor no ifs, ands, or buts and then there will be another baby in the family for us to love. There's nothing like seeing Abbey when she's pregnant and in mothering mode."
"She's great sir," Josh smiled. "Maybe I"ll let her come take care of me after my surgery. I want Donna there, but I don't want her upset either."
"There will be plenty of us keeping an eye on Donna this time just like last time," Leo said. "She'll be fine. She's a strong and amazing woman. She's been amazing me since I let you keep her on the campaign trail."
"Well last time she wasn't pregnant with my triplets," Josh sighed, "but this time it's not going to be like that. She'll be able to be with me in just a couple hours. No I'm only really going worry if the news is bad, but they don't think it's going to be. They think I'll only need a couple days off in conjunction with a long weekend."
Leo smiled, "We'll all be here for you and hoping that the news is good." Toby gently smiled his support and his thoughts turned to CJ.
Leo turned his attention to Toby. "Mr. Ziegler you have been almost silent--even for you--for two days now. You want to share with the group?"
"Not particularly," Toby grumbled in his usual fashion.
"Trouble with CJ," Sam poked and suddenly the room recieved a glare.
"Guys lay off the man," Leo said gently. "Toby we're all friends here and we all care very much about you and CJ. So if there's anything you want to talk about or anyway we can help, speak up. You're not alone you know. This is a family, and getting more so all the time with most of us expectant fathers..."
The glare came again.
Toby swallowed and took a deep breath to gather courage and then said very softly, "We think CJ miscarried two days ago. I don't even know what to do for her, what to say...I don't even know what to do for myself."
Sam, Josh, Leo, and Charlie sat in stunned silence. Jed swallowed hard three times, and then rose and walked around the table to stand behind Toby, dropping two firm hands on his shoulders. "Toby we are so very, very sorry. What can we do to help? Is there anything we can do that would help you or her to cope?"
Toby sighed again, "I don't know...maybe not talking so much about the babies around her. I don't know. She's drawing up so much. She won't even hardly talk to me. We don't know for sure but it certainly seems the case." He slammed his fist on the table angrily.
"You sound like me," Josh said softly, "At Christmas time remember. Maybe you should talk to him like I did. You and CJ."
"Toby it's not easy to lose a child," Leo said very quietly, "Jenny and I lost three. Which is why Mallory is an only child."
Everyone save Jed looked stunned. "what did you do? What did you say?" Toby asked gently.
"Well husbands twenty years ago weren't the sensitive males we are today," Leo grinned slightly. "We were expected to be strong and silent, and to bear the burden for both. Except I was the exception in private wasn't I Jed? I spent three nights crying in this man's arms--three different times for three different sons."
Toby closed his eyes a moment. "I'm very sorry Leo." Josh and Sam put in their sincere regrets as well. "But then you got Caroline," Jed pointed out, "and now you have two sons." "I feel like my silence is maybe hurting her. I don't want her to shut me out," Toby said, opening up more than he ever had before. "I'm afraid I'm going to lose her."
"And likely she has the same fear about you," Leo reminded him. "You do want her still right? I mean you're going to start wedding plans? That's what I would recommend. That you move ahead with that. Don't let this tear you apart. It's a tragedy, but there will be other things that you'll have to bear together as well. Let this one teach you how to manage those."
Toby was quiet for a moment as he absorbed that. "That's the other thing. I wanted to get clearance to take her to Paris next weekend, dress shopping." "Woah," Josh said in surprise, "nice move Toby."
"Hey Toby give the rest of us a break here," Sam groaned. "I was hoping mine would simply go to Hecht's and get something off the rack."
"You think she could talk Donna into doing that too?" Josh grinned. "Or CJ could just bring them back one each of whatever she found."
"You two know nothing about women," Jed informed them. "Toby I think that's a wonderful idea. In fact take a couple extra days and make it an official trip. You can do some talking with the defense minister for me, and this way it's on Uncle Sam."
Toby smiled, "Thank-you sir...for everything." Then he looked at Josh and Sam almost teasingly as if to say he'd done better than them.
"He's right you know," Leo spoke up. "They'll never go for off the rack dresses. After all this is their wedding, not a state dinner. They only get one shot at having the perfect wedding and that's important to them."
Josh and Sam both glared. "OK but I don't see either of us affording Paris," Sam sighed. "New York maybe." He looked to Josh. "You know that's not a bad idea--the four of us in New York one weekend. We can see a couple shows and let them shop."
"We're going to take two pregnant women to New York?!" Josh suddenly exclaimed, "are you out of your mind? The jarring of the subway trains, the walking, the people bumping into them, all the germs floating around that could hurt the babies."
"Oh you're so right," Sam gasped, now looking horrified. "OK so how do we do that. You know they're going to want to start thinking about it and planning for it."
"Aren't there catalogs?" Josh asked the other men. "I mean wouldn't a bridal book do? Or we could maybe get a designer to come see them?"
"Whoa, now there's an idea," Sam yelped. "Surely they've got some idea what they want. Why couldn't they describe it to a designer and have some sketches drawn up and see fabric samples and stuff. Like when you order drapes you know?"
"That might be do-able," Jed spoke up, "and I think the women might be flattered by that. You may want to try and tease out of them who they'd most like to have a wedding gown designed by. If you can do it without their getting suspicious."
"I'll get Zoey to do it," Charlie spoke up. "She can get them to talk about it--her and Chloe, right Tucker? That's natural girl talk, during which I glaze over. Zoey can ask Chloe about her gown and they can start talking about designers. Hey this is fun. Josh, like last week when you made Rep. Milton cry."
"I did not," Josh yelped and then looked embarrased. "Well maybe a little."
Leo looked amused, "You made Rep. Milton cry? Is this the same man that threatened to march into the wing and have an all-nighter with Toby?!"
"That would be him," Josh grinned. "I know I should lighten up, but the man is so EASY. Not to mention, it was a lot of Party money that got him elected in a tough district. He needs to learn a little humility and gratefulness." As he was speaking his cellphone sounded and a look of panic crossed his face. "Josh Lyman Donna is that you are you OK?"
"And this is only her fourth month," Jed sighed.
"Josh I'm fine," Donna said even though she was smiling. "I just called because I missed you and wanted to talk to you a bit."
"Just as soon as I recover from the stroke I just worked myself into," he grinned. "Deal me out guys." With that he moved away from the table where he could speak privately. "I love you and I miss you too," he whispered. "In fact I'm not sure I've told you lately now much I do love you."
Donna smiled through the phone, "Not since this morning. How's everything going over there? Chloe's busy envying Ainsley and I. Zoey's giving her all of the info and CJ, Caroline and Abbey have disappeared off into a corner."
"I do love you, more than I thought I could love another human being," he smiled. "And here, Leo is cleaning us all out, which in my case won't be much since I only had twenty on me. I plan to make all of it back and then some at the casino tomorrow night."
"Oh really, you're going to gamble us into debt at Harrah's. Do you realize that there's a 87% or greater loss rate?" Donna spouted off.
"You don't honestly think the management is going to let the Presidential staff lose money do you?" he laughed. "Besides they have great food, and at least three shows to pick from. Gambling is only a minor part of the evening thank you. I plan to enjoy dinner and dancing, and then Bill Cosby or one of the other shows--your choice."
"Well okay, I suppose it's an alright way to spend our last evening here," Donna said, "but not Bill Cosby...I'll either leave a puddle in the theatre or I'll be sore for weeks!"
"There's two musical acts there besides," he smiled again. "I'm sorry Yo Yo Ma is not one of them however. OK, enough. You should be resting and they want me back in the game. I love you. Will you keep my side of the bed warm if you get there first?"
Donna smiled, "Well isn't your side my side? Of course I'll keep it warm. I love you Josh." Then she hung up.
"When you're really in love it really is the greatest thing," Donna spoke up, "all those other times when you think you are and then all the bad stuff happens and you think you're terrible at love, well that's all wrong because when you really finally get it right...it's not anything like that...it's like an old comfortable arm chair, just security and comfort and love and it doesn't have to be anything flashy because it's real."
The other women nodded thoughtfully. "He has loved you since he's known you," CJ smiled softly. "And at the hospital, I for one wasn't sure you were going to be able to hold it together."
"That makes two of us," Donna said, "I thought my whole world was ending. If I had lost him I don't know that I would have been able to hold it together. I think I would have just let go."
"He would not have wanted that," CJ reminded her gently. "But I'm glad you didn't have to make that choice. He's a special person, a special friend in my case."
Everyone was quiet a moment thinking about their relationships. Ainsley was the first to speak next, "Is anyone else craving a hot fudge sundae with chocolate cake at the bottom?"
"Let's do it," Chloe squealed.
"And then we'd best adjourn and collect our men," Caroline smiled. "But this has been great and when we get back to DC, we need to do it more often. Lord knows the men hole themselves up in those so called meetings for hours and you know they're watching films instead."
"Josh anti already," Leo ordered.
Josh was still holding the phone. "Sorry, just kind of picturing her here," He grinned. "And shortly I'm going up to take her bed. I'm not ashamed to admit that I need to be with her."
"Ainsley," Sam sighed and smiled. "Let's just play poker already," Toby interjected.
Toby dealt for a few seconds and then smiled sheepishly. "OK why don't we all just admit we can't hardly stand to be away from these women and we worry about them when we are. Mr. President, even as long as you and Abbey have been married and as much as you've been apart, I'm right aren't I?"
Jed smiled, "I'm man enough to admit that. I don't much like Abbey out of my sight and especially not now that she's pregnant again. I want to wrap my arms around her and hold her and not let go until this baby comes. I figure that way I'll at least know she's safe."
"Amen," the chorus went around the table and Tucker gave a long sigh. "I don't know how I'm going to be. I worry about Chloe now. She's so delicate it seems to me. And she can't wait to be pregnant. I guess even a tiny waisted woman can grow a baby though."
"Oh yes, she'll balloon right on out," Sam spoke up, "just look at Ainsley. They're roughly the same size and Ainsley's pregnant with twins. But that should still give you a good idea of what will be happening."
"I think Donna and Ainsley are both beautiful," Tucker smiled. "And Zoey was too. She wants a baby so bad-Chloe I mean. I just hope I don't disappoint her. Except of course I did give her one once...so I guess we can do it again. God it's been a long time since I thought about that." He looked to Toby. "I guess you and I have something in common then."
Toby gave Tucker a rare smile. He had forgotten that Chloe had lost a baby as well. "Yes, I guess we do," Toby replied. "don't you worry though. You'll have Chloe pregnant in no time so you can fuss over her. You two are young and you have long lives ahead of you."
"I pray so. Thanks Toby," Tucker grinned.
The women had finished their sundaes and came to join the men. Chloe came and curled against Tucker. "I missed you. Let's go to bed. We have to leave tomrrow after all."
"Leave this paradise" he grinned. "Is there some really good reason we're rushing home? I mean some big event coming up---OK, let me think. Right, they're putting that new wallpaper in the Roosevelt room, and we're going to watch right?"
"Boy she's going to kick your butt," Leo grinned.
"We have to go because that's the way the president's schedule works," Chloe replied, "because that's our job and for that you're sleeping on the floor." she said before she smiled and winked at him.
Tucker took her hand and pulled her to her feet. They bade good nights and walked to their room where he promptly pulled a cover off the bed and rolled up in it on the floor. "Good night then."
Chloe looked at him a moment and then said, "Good night." She laid down on the bed and then curled up and went to sleep.
"Two can play that game," Tucker grinned and pounded his pillow into submission, falling asleep as well.
"Come on Angel, let's get you to bed," Josh urged, watching Donna down the last of her sundae and then pulling her to her feet. "My children need their rest."
"They sleep even when I'm awake Josh," Donna felt the need to point out. She went with him anyhow. Soon all of the couples had retired.
About two in the morning Toby rolled over and noticed a small light was on in the room. CJ was curled up in a corner near the window, working from the light coming in the hole she'd made by pulling back the drape.
"And I know there's a really good reason you're not laying here next to me so that I wake up all cold and alone," Toby groaned. He pushed himself to his feet and walked over to her, dragging one of the many bedcovers to press around her shoulders. "What's going on?"
"I was trying to write and put myself at peace," CJ said, barely above a whisper, "it isn't working. I was planning for the wedding but I finished what I wanted to do of that tonight..." She sighed, "I just can't stop thinking about..."
"I know baby, I know," Toby sighed, wrapping a strong arm around her shoulders and pulling her head down to his chest. "I suspect five years from now, when we have at least two, we'll still remember this little life that was with us such a short time."
CJ dropped her head, "the First Lady said I should go and see my OB and make sure it successfully finished, make sure I can get pregnant again..." She was quiet a moment, "Toby, I want your baby, yesterday I was almost thinking about never trying again but now I realize I want to try again as soon as possible."
"I'm glad," he whispered, his voice tearful. "I want that too, very much. And I'm glad you're going to be checked. We want you to be real healthy and to have a healthy baby. I love you so much. Do you want me to go to the OB with you--hold your hand?"
CJ looked at him tenderly, "You don't have to. You've already been through so much..."
"I want to be there," he said firmly, rubbing her back. "But only if you feel comfortable with that. If you do, I want to be there when the doctor tells you you're perfectly healthy and that we can start on another baby soonest."
CJ smiled softly and squeezed his hand. Finally she yawned and without a word she joined Toby in bed.
"Sam...Sam I really hat to do this," Ainsley whispered softly about three in the morning, "but I'm really hungry here and..."
"Isn't breakfast in about five hours?" Sam groaned, knowing even as he said it he was going to get the bare foot in the center of the back. He was not disappointed. "OK I'm up." He rolled over to face her, and could not help but smile at the adorable face surrounded by touseled blonde hair. "I'm up, what are we hungry for?"
"A lucky dog and some cottage cheese with some peaches on the side," Ainsley replied with a smile.
"OK, I'm up," Sam repeated. "I mean you got it." He crammed his legs into jeans from the floor and grabbed a pull over. "Deputy Communications Director mugged on New Orleans street getting pregnant fiancee one of the world famous lucky dogs," he groaned as he staggered for the door, only to meet Josh in the hallway. "Lucky dog?" Sam asked.
"You too huh?" Josh said in a sleepy voice. He looked like he was still half asleep. "I can't wait for this to happen to Toby."
"And Tucker," Sam added. "Of course with the President, he can call Charlie to tell him to fetch. You know what, you and I need a Charlie."
"And there's one right there," Josh pointed. "Mrs. Bartlet?"
"Yeah," Charlie replied groggily, "do you know where or what a lucky dog is?"
"Charlie my man come with us," Sam grinned, wrapping his arm around the younger man's shoulders. "In fact we may as well get something for ourselves for our trouble."
In the meantime, Donna crawled from her bed and went into Ainsley's room. "You want some company while we wait? That bed, and that room, suddenly got very dark, very lonely and very empty. I think with pregnancy has come a fear of the dark and a fear of being alone."
"It's not just me then?" Ainsley said as she sat up though it was obvious she didn't want an answer. She made space for Donna and sat rubbing her babymound for a few moments before she spoke. "Donna, honestly...how did you and Josh..." she motioned to Donna's pregnancy, "I mean we all know you weren't together until just recently."
"It was a spur of the moment one night thing," Donna said guardedly, rubbing her own babies. "It just kind of happened. But then you and Sam--you what, were together and then you weren't so you must have had a similar experience."
"Yeah," Ainsley replied, "It was definitely a spur of the moment thing, I mean not that I don't love him, I mean now or then but...you know what I mean?"
"Yeah I think so," Donna smiled, pulling her legs up under her to sit Indian style. "I know he loves you. Sam's a very special man. A very wonderful man in fact."
Ainsley eyed Donna then, "you and Sam were never..."
Donna had to blink twice to be sure she was hearing and seeing correctly. "Me and Sam? As in me and, and Josh?" She laughed lightly and shook her head. "Ainsley Sam and Josh are like brothers, and for a while I was the little sister. Sam and I especially were like that. With Josh it didn't play well because...well frankly because I was so in love with him I couldn't hug him and play with him like I did Sam. But no Sam and me--no way. Just like me and no one. At first I would go out with some of the guys, like the Aides up on the hill, even a couple of the representatives, but when you're sitting there going, you are nothing like Josh Lyman, to every one of them, it's pretty pointless."
Ainsley was a deep shade of red, "Donna I'm so sorry that was so very out of line, I mean I hardly know you people, well I know you but not enough to be asking things like that, not that I'm entirely sure I would or should have asked that even if I did know you well and...well I'm just sorry."
Donna reached over and squeezed her hand. "Hey our husbands are best friends, our kids are going to all be about the same age. You're family to me already. Besides I like the idea of having someone I can talk to. We're about the same age, same blonde hair and you'll have to tell me what shade you use because I love yours, and we're in love with men from the White House senior staff. How much more in common could we have."
Ainsley smiled, "well actually its natural. I've never played with it."
"Now I'm majorly jealous," Donna smiled too. "Mine is about two shades darker than this, so basically I brighten it. Hey, have you ever thought of putting a red rinse on just to see what it looks like? Every time I see Gillian Anderson I think about it, but I don't know what people would think."
"Actually that does sound good. Of course I can't do it now being pregnant but..." Ainsley shrugged. "I don't know if Sam would want me going red like his future sister-in-law."
"The last time I had mine done I asked the doctor beforehand if it was OK in pregnancy and he said a mild non ammonia formula wouldn't hurt. So I was thinking of a tempory red rinse that washes out just to test the waters. If Josh freaked, I'd shampoo 'til it faded. I still may surprise him."
Ainsley smiled, "I'll help put it in if you want, maybe you could audition it by Sam...but I love my color so much I really don't think I'd want to color mine. I think you'd make a beautiful redhead though."
Donna giggled lightly. "Yeah I think I'm going to. In the morning I'll come down to the drug store there and get a bottle, and then would you? You know them--they won't pay any attention to what we're doing and then we can see the reaction." She gave a long sigh and rubbed her belly. "Honestly I wouldn't mind Josh taking a little notice. When we walked by the pool earlier, there was a girl--she might have been about twenty, in this thong bikini and I thought his head was going to swivel off its hinges. He's probably still got whiplash. After this pregnancy I don't think I'll even be a size 6 again, much less a 1 like this chick probably is."
"Chasing around after Josh?" Ainsley scoffed with a light laugh and a twinkle in her eye, "you'll be trimmed down to your pre-pregnancy weight in no time!" She patted Donna's hand. "Of course I'll go with you. I wonder what's taking our men so long."
"This is absolutely decadent," Sam grinned. "An all night strip joint and a drink. I'm glad Leo can't see us now." Charlie looked around nervously at the mention of his name. "I hope Mrs. Bartlet wasn't in a real hurry for that dog."
"We'll tell them there was a line," Josh offered, holding his glass up. "One drink and one dance set. How long can it take?"
His answer came exactly two minutes later when the doors burst open. "New Orleans Vice. No one move," the large man leading the contingency proclaimed.
"This was your idea, you're explaining it to Toby and Leo," Sam said to Josh as the officers came over to handcuff them.
"We are dead men," Josh groaned, reaching for his wallet for his ID, which he realized in the fog of sleep he had not remembered to pick up. "Officer I'm Joshua Lyman, this is Samuel Seaborn, and Charles Young. We're all from the President's staff and there's obviously been a mistake."
"Yeah and I'm Santa Claus," the man growled and poked at Charlie with his nightstick. "Keep those hands where I can see them boy."
Charlie's mouth dropped open at the racial slur.
"Officer you are going to be one sorry policeman for that," Sam said quietly. "May we know the charge?"
"You'll be processed downtown, and in case you want to make a complaint, my name is Day."
"Count on it," Sam said firmly, earning himself a hard poke in the midriff with that nightstick that left him doubled over and coughing.
"I guess Mrs. Bartlet is going to have to do a little more waiting than she anticipated for that lucky whatever," Charlie said softly to Sam and Josh now feeling very tense and uptight in the presence of these men who disliked him so obviously.
"We'll be missed very shortly," Josh assured him. "In the meantime we'll be cooperating completely with these officers." He looked over to Sam, still bent over and coughing. "Sam OK?"
"I've been better but I'm fine," Sam replied, "I'm more worried about Ainsley." He sighed, "especially when she hears about where I was..."
"We only stopped for a drink--more a joke than anything," Josh protested. "This should not be happening. OK, we're just going to be calm. We'll get processed, and we can make our phone call. Leo is going to croak, but at least he'll come get us. And get word to the women."
"Jed, I wasn't kidding. I'm hungry," Abbey groaned softly.
Jed struggled awake at her words. "You mean Charlie's not back yet?" he frowned. "That was over an hour ago. It shouldn't have taken him long to run out and run back?" He ran his hand through his hair and picked up the phone, dialing Zoey's room. "Honey, is Charlie back yet? He was supposed to bring your mother a Lucky Puppy."
"A lucky dog Dad," Zoey replied in a half-panic, "that was over an hour ago and he's not back yet. I'm really worried..."
"OK honey, we'll see if we can get in touch with him." Jed sat up and reached for the phone, dialing Leo's room. "Leo, Charlie's gone out and not come back"
At the same time Ainsley and Donna were starting to worry about their own men. "Ainsley it's been too long," Donna wailed softly. "What if they were mugged or something. I'm starting to get really scared and my stomach is hurting."
"Okay now," Ainsley said, her accent becoming stronger, "let's not have any of that now. Alright I want you to put you hands here, on the babies and I want you to rub in slow circles like this and I want you to take even, gradual breaths. Now I want you to talking to me calmly about something else. Josh and Sam are fine. They probably just got side-tracked or lost. They'll get back alright."
Donna nodded and swallowed hard, leaning back and massaging the babies. She had about managed to calm them when Leo knocked at the door. "Sam, Josh you in there? I'm looking for some word on Charlie who's missing."
"Leo," Donna squealed, trying to get up, at the same time feeling the pain rush through her. "Leo Josh and Sam are gone too."
Ainsley motioned Donna back and then opened the door and admitted Leo. "Josh and Sam went out over an hour ago on craving errands and we haven't heard from them yet."
"This is getting even more strange," Leo frowned, "and I don't like it. New Orleans has a crime problem like any..." He stopped as he looked to Donna, who was now white with fear, her arms wrapped around the babies.
"Donna we'll find them, I promise."
Ainsley was starting to not look too great herself. "Don't worry Donna they probably didn't even stop to think about how worried we'd be."
"Both of you lay back down there and take it easy," Leo ordered. "I'm going to start checking around here. Three men do not just vanish."
Donna had paled completely, now lying on her side in a ball, holding her babies, silent tears on her cheeks.
"Damn" Sam slammed his fist against the wall of the holding cell, "Ainsley's probably worried sick by now and I'm worried for her. Too much stress isn't good for her..."
Josh had not spoken since they had been put in, his thoughts on Donna. "They're both scared to death I'm sure," he sighed. "I can't believe this. Illegal gambling. How did we know that. We're not responsible for things that go on in that place--all we wanted was a drink."
"I'm a dead man," Charlie moaned. "If the President doesn't kill me, Zoey will."
"Seaborn you're up," the guard called. "Oh thank god," Sam breathed, and five minutes later the phone was ringing in Ainsley's room.
"Hello?" Ainsley yipped out in a panic. She heard Sam's voice then. "Sam where are you? Please tell me you're okay." She pleaded urgently and quickly.
"We're all fine," Sam told her, ignoring the bruise in his middle for the moment. "We've been arrested. Caught in a raid. Josh has no ID, and we need someone to come vouch for us, not to mention set bond I guess. I don't know. Kill me now please."
"Arrested?" Ainsley repeated and Leo groaned and ran a hand through his hair. "Where are you?" she asked. Apparently the police station was only four blocks from their hotel, Leo was quickly informed. "I'm so glad you're okay," Ainsley said relaxing a little. "Leo's on his way. I love you--" she said and then she heard the phone die. "Sam!" she called to it and then, depressed, she hung up. "They're okay," she told Donna, "just arrested."
"Arrested for what?" Donna moaned, struggling to get up, but the pain and the news was too much and she curled into a tighter ball. "Ainsley what could they possibly have done?"
Before Ainsley could answer, Zoey was at the door, Charles bundled in her arms. "Leo stopped and told me," she whispered. "At least they're Ok. Can I come in and wait?"
"Of course," Ainsley replied. She moved to make room for Zoey and Charles who was beginning to fuss for his four am feeding.
"Hey, hi," Donna smiled. "Sorry, I'm not real socialble right now. But let me make some more room for you."
"You guys don't mind if Charles and I do our thing do you?" Zoey sighed. "I feel like a milk bar, but he doesn't take the bottle well. And formula forget it--he spits that right back. Charlie can give him a bottle of breast milk now and then, but from me it's gotta be real."
"No, no go ahead," Ainsley was quick to reply. "We'll be in the same boat in a few months." She smiled. "I, personally, think it's beautiful."
"Part of me wants him to stay little like this forever," Zoey smiled, "and then part of me feels like I'm always going to have him attached. I think about like going back to school, and I know it's good for him to have a little time away from me so he gets used to other people; and then I start thinking I can't bear to be away from him. Donna, Ainsley, what are you going to do about working and your babies? Hire nannies?"
"I'm going to have to," Ainsley replied and Donna nodded. "I don't want to leave my job at the White house. I'd miss Josh too much," Donna added. "We'll make it work," Ainsley finished, "Sam promised me."
"You guys should come share my Nanny when I get her," Zoey sighed. "Then you could have the babies at lunch and...no wait. A day care center in the White House. Staffed by nannies that share the responsibility for all the babies. I mean even the President is going to have one soon."
"You mean your Dad," Donna spoke up, "or does that just weird you out too much?" "I think that sounds like a wonderful idea," Ainsley replied, "I'd love to have the babies as close as possible so I could spend free time with them."
'Yeah of course I meant my dad," Zoey giggled, "I was thinking if the President was behind the idea it would carry more wait. No I'm fine with mom and dad having another baby. And they're so happy...happy? They're delerious."
"Sam tell me they're coming for us, please." Josh begged.
About that time an officer came and opened the cell asking them to come out. He led them upstairs to where Leo was waiting.
"Leo thank god, "Josh gasped. "We've been in hell."
"Don't exagerate," Sam admonished him.
"Sam you were punched with a nightstick and I was addressed as boy," Charlie spoke up. "It hasn't been a fun time."
"I don't think it's going to be much better when you get back," Leo said, "what were you thinking? a strip club?!" They stepped out and dodged photographers.
"I'll tell you all about it when we get back," Josh sighed. "And please, let's stop and get the Lucky Dogs we were sent for. Donna is already going to kill me, and a hungry Donna will be twice as bad." He frowned broadly then. "Leo, she was OK when you left right? We were gone so long they must have been pretty scared."
"They are scared, all three of them, huddled up in a bed trying to be brave and strong," Leo said, "they were beginning to worry that you'd been shot or mugged." He found a Lucky Dog vendor with help and stopped.
Lucky Dog bags safely in hand, and a Lucky Dog in each mouth as well, they started back for the hotel. "You know, these are wonderful," Charlie raved. "And I didn't even think I was hungry. Pass the mustard please."
"Leo we were looking for a vendor and we stopped for a drink, that's all. And what else is open at that hour but these strip clubs. Normal people have closed up and gone home to bed." Josh put on a puppy face and offered Leo the other end of his chili cheese dog.
Leo produced his own hot dog and began to eat. "Well tell it to CJ tomorrow morning," he sighed. They finished their hotdogs and arrived back at the hotel. As soon as Ainsley and Donna saw them they threw their arms about them, once they'd struggled from bed. "Oh where have you been?" Donna gasped out with relief, tears on her cheeks.
"We stopped for a drink," Josh said, deciding on the truth from the start, "only it was in a strip club." "But we didn't look, honest," Charlie piped up from Zoey's arms, and both men laughed. "Charlie of course we looked, but we weren't impressed," Josh groaned. "Anyway, it was raided for illegal gambling going on in the back."
Ainsley was squeezing Sam so hard he had to back off. "Hey, it's a little sore in there right now," he said softly, lifting his shirt to check on his abdomen for the first time.
Ainsley gasped, "Oh jeez, how did that happen? Don't tell me you were in a fight."
"Police brutality," Josh called from where he was helping Donna back onto the bed. "I missed you. I was starting to have visions of seeing the babies only on visiting days."
Donna was frowning, the frown had been increasing for some time before she finally called out. "Get out! just get out! Take Sam with you and get out of our room!" She started to cry then startling even Leo who was still in the doorway. "How dare you go look at women with flat stomachs and big boobs." Ainsley was in agreeance then and moved to join Donna on the bed. "Go," she said looking especially at Sam.
Josh had the good grace to look suitably chastised. "Donna we didn't do anything wrong--we stopped for a drink is all," he said quietly.
"Ainsley..." Sam tried and when she wasn't forthcoming backed away.
"Sam come on," Josh urged. "Let's give them a chance to rest. You should put an ice bag on your middle anyway before you have a bruise the size of Texas."
Charlie meanwhile was staring at Zoey. "Are you upset too?"
"No," Zoey said, going with Charlie, "if you say you didn't do anything then you didn't do anything...Donna and Ainsley likely aren't really mad either but remember they're pregnant and hormonal and their emotions sometimes rule over good judgement."
"I think I remember those days," he grinned and held her.
Josh and Sam lingered at the door, looking back at the women they loved. "We'll come back later and check on you," Josh said softly, the full weight of how disappointed Donna was hitting him.
"Ainsley I'm sorry," Sam whispered and followed Josh out.
Donna and Ainsley communed and cried together even as they devoured the lucky dogs.
Charlie knocked on the door and gave the president his lucky dog to give to Abbey and even one for himself. "They're really good sir," Charlie said before he walked to the next suite up the hall with Zoey.
"Zoey are Donna and Ainsley going to be OK?" Charlie fretted. "They don't seem real happy right now with Josh and Sam. And I'm guessing I'm not real high on your list of people right now either, but thanks for understanding. We only sat there, had a drink apiece and laughed, mostly at these women."
"You're getting lower on the list," Zoey said. She smiled at him though. "Well imagine you're Ainsley or Donna, right now you're starting to feel fat, uncomfortable and self-conscious. Then the one person who is supposed to love you without a doubt and think you're beautiful announces he's been to a stip club to see tiny women like you used to be. How would that make you feel?"
"Like sh...uh like two cents," Charlie sighed. "Well I dont think it's a matter of remorse. Josh and Sam are that. But how do Donna and Ainsley forgive them?"
"If they apologize sincerely and then lavish them with love and affection that should do it," Zoey smiled. "Remember when I used to get upset and you'd rub my big swollen belly and tell me how much seeing me like that turned you on? remember how I suddenly was all better?"
"Yes exactly," Charlie grinned, and looked over to their baby son as he slept. "Now I tell you how beautiful you are when you nurse him. And how much that turns me on. At least I hope I tell you that often. And if I don't shame on me--especially shame on me if I don't tell you how much I love you often, like every hour on the hour."
"Well don't set your watch," Zoey teased. She smiled, "yes I love to hear you tell me how beautiful I am when I nurse our son. I'm not so insecure about it now as I used to be but there at first, hearing you say that made me feel less self-conscious and nervous."
"I'll try to do better," Charlie grinned, flopping on his stomach with a long arm across her. "And someday soon I hope to be telling you again how beautiful you are with my child. Only...." He paused and drew in his breath. "Only I know you want to finish school, and spend time enjoying Charles' babyhood, so I can be patient."
"Zoey smiled, "we have plenty of time. I have a year of school left and then maybe four months and then we can start trying again. In fact that's a promise. You can start counting down from 16 months tomorrow." She kissed him.
"Sam I'm not sure I know how to make this right," Josh sighed even as he was pushing Sam onto the bed and getting him some ice in a wash cloth.
"We could ask someone who's had a pregnant wife before," Sam spoke, "Leo or Toby, or the President."
"I don't think Toby needs to be reminded of all this right now," Josh said softly, "but Leo yeah. He and Caroline went around a couple times. Let's see if we can persuade him to help us out. Sam I don't mind admitting, I'm kind of scared here. Just speaking for myself, I've hurt Donna bad, and I'm not going to be able to rest until I fix it."
"Me either," Sam sighed, "well if we're lucky Leo hasn't gone back to bed yet," Sam said hurrying for the door with Josh.
Leo gave a long sigh of frustration as he crawled into bed with Caroline, who was now up feeding Leo. "If Iraq invaded Kuwait again, my life would not be this complicated," he moaned.
There was a knock at their door. "Leo be nice," Caroline warned with a soft smile as her husband wandered toward the door. "Leo we need your advice and help with Ainsley and Donna," Sam blurted out as soon as Leo had opened the door, "please tell us how to make things better."
"Do I look like Ann Landers standing here?" Leo yelped. "I've already been your bailbondsmen tonight. Now I'm advice to the lovelorn too? Well come in. Maybe Caroline can enlighten you. I'm not sure I understand why they're so upset. The president on the other hand may kill you--that's up to him."
Sam grimaced at that thought but decided he'd worry with that later and walked with Josh inside. He gasped and turned away immediately when he noticed Caroline was nursing.
"Sam sit," Leo ordered, but in deference to his discomfort, pulled the sheet over her a little more. "Honestly Mr. Seaborn, you're going to have one of these on each side of Ainsley soon enough. OK now as I understand the problem, Donna and Ainsley think you're both insensitive clods and want nothing more to do with you. Am I getting warm here?"
"Yes, we've apparently committed ocular adultery and we're in the dog house big time. I apologized to Ainsley but it had no effect and the look on her face. Look I love her too much to be away from her, not to mention how worried I am. She's pregnant with twins for goodness' sake!"
"Triplets here," Josh said miserably. "So basically how do we throw ourselves on our swords and make it up to them. I feel like we should get another suite and fill it with roses and kidnap them and carry them up there and swear to them how much we love them."
"That might would work," Caroline replied with a smile, "but Leo what did you do when I suddenly got moody?" she turned to her husband, "and I don't mean the times you went to the office."
"No I guess escaping isn't an option here," Leo grinned. "Well let's see. I filled the hot tub with scented water, sent you flowers, gave you back rubs, went to Baskins Robbins for that hot fudge volcano chocolate blast thing that clogged my arteries just having it in the car. I reminded you that you are beautiful and that I loved you. And still do by the way," he added hastily. "Hmmm...I don't know what else. Did it work?"
"Like a charm," Caroline smiled, "and the times when you would sit there and just cuddle me and tell me how beautiful I was and how much you loved me being pregnant, while you rubbed the babies. You've made them insecure men. Your mission is to make them feel queen of your world again."
"All that's great but they have to let us," Josh sighed. "But it's worth a try. Sam let's see if we can get a suite upstairs with two bedrooms and flowers..where the hell are we going to find flowers at this time of night?"
"Well seeing as it's now five am I don't think you'll have much trouble but our plane leaves at nine thirty so you'll have to hurry," Leo groaned before he rolled over and began trying to sleep again.
"Let's see what we can come up with. Thanks Leo. And you can sleep on the plane all the way back," Josh promised, clapping Sam's back for him to hurry.
Donna moaned and sat up, clutching her stomach. "Ainsley, are you OK?" she asked softly to her friend. "I don't know when I've ever been so unhappy and miserable, and I've never been in so much pain as I am right now. It just won't stop."
"Pain? what kind of pain?" Ainsley suddenly sat up. "I'm miserable but I'm not in pain. Oh please tell me this is not a bad kind of pain Donna. I mean not that there's a good kind of pain but-well you know."
"It just hurts," Donna said softly. "Just one long steady dull hurt. Not like cramping or bleeding, nothing like that. Just a big pain like a lump in the middle of my stomach." She curled up in a ball again, bringing her knees up as far as she could as she lay on her side. "I think I just want to be left alone to die quietly."
"This isn't good," Ainsley fretted, "who should I go get?"
"I think I need Josh," she whispered. "I know I'm caving and I'm still upset, but I think I need him. I need his arms around me and promising me it's going to be OK."
"Going," Ainsley gasped and she got up from the bed and went to her room. Sam and Josh had just returned. "Josh, it's Donna, she needs you. She asked for you." Ainsley panted looking worried.
"OK I'm coming, apology in hand," Josh smiled and then looked at Ainsley, "hey no--what's wrong? You're scaring me here. Is she OK?"
"She says she's having a long, dull pain in her stomach," Ainsley repeated worriedly, "Josh I'm worried for her. Maybe someone should wake the First Lady?"
Josh's eyes grew big and he leaned back weakly against the wall. "My god Ainsley are the babies in trouble?"
Sam clapped his arm. "Go talk to her first before you panic. If we need to, we'll call Mrs. Bartlet." Josh took off running and Sam looked intently at Ainsley. "Thanks for coming to get him," he said quietly. "I'll be down the hall if anything comes up." He wanted nothing more at that moment than to have her in his arms, but if she were still upset he had no intention of forcing himself on her.
"Donna, Donna I'm here," Josh was shouting even before he hit the bedroom.
"Well that's a fine thing to say to your fiancee when she's traumatized!" Ainsley exclaimed, "just walk off and desert me!" She called to his back. The sniffles started again.
Sam froze in place. "Ains I didn't think you wanted anything to do with me" He told her without turning around. "I'd kill right now to have you in my arms, but only if that's what you want" He turned around and tentatively held his arms open to her.
One hundred and thirty two pounds of lawyer flew forcefully into his arms, blonde hair flinging against him and her head burying itself against his chest, babies squished between them in an effort to get as close as possible.
"Ainsley I love you," he whispered, tears running down his cheeks as he attempted to pick her up into his arms but could not quite manage, settling for a long hug as the babies squirmed with the extra contact. "I love you and I hurt you and I'm sorry. So very sorry."
"Do you find me that unattractive already?" Ainsley whimpered.
"Josh," Donna gave him half a smile from her curled up position, "thank-you for coming."
"Thank me for coming?" he exploded. "Donna that's what I say to someone from the hill who agrees to meet me. I don't need thanks. I need to know you're OK. I belong by your side. If you want me that is."
Donna reached out a hand and nodded gently, her eyes were pools of unshed tears, brimming with fear. "Josh, there's a pain, a long, dull, pain in my stomach area."
Josh swallowed hard and took a breath to calm his own fear. "OK baby, OK." he whispered. "I know you're scared and I know I am. But I love you and we're going to get through this. Come here now, and trust me OK. You do trust me don't you? Even after tonight."
Donna nodded mutely and moved her balled up self against him.
"Hey good," he said soothingly, urging her head down onto his shoulder. "OK now put your legs out some so that the babies aren't so confined. Even if it hurts more that way, trust me now." Once she had done that, he slipped his hand beneath her gown until he made skin to skin contact. "OK babies, OK," Josh whispered softly, starting a gentle rocking motion as well as a massage of the baby area. "OK, Daddy's here now. And he's not going to leave Mommy again. Relax mommy, Daddy's holding you and Daddy loves you."
Donna let out a couple of deep breaths and after a couple of minutes Josh began to feel the babies moving, They were getting active with the rocking motion.
"That's it, good job, all of you. Mommy too," Josh encouraged, and put his mouth close to her ear. "Rock and relax now. You're OK. The babies are safe and you're with the man who loves you so much it hurts some times." His hands began moving in slow circles across the baby mound and the babies rose to his touch.
"You're going to have me black and blue from the inside out," Donna teased him even though she knew it wasn't possible.
"But is this helping?" Josh asked anxiously. "Your stomach isn't near as tight as it was. You were like all knotted up I do know that."
"I was upset," Donna replied shortly. Then she sighed and in a more amenable tone added, "yes it's helping very much thank-you."
"You had every right to be," Josh sighed, "and I'm sure the President will be as well--that I can handle as long as I know you're OK. All I can say is we stopped for a drink and a couple laughs. Honey it's not the first time you were upset and it won't be the last. I do dumb things--we knew that going in--but please don't send me away. Not now especially. Let me make it right. I couldn't bear it if anything happened to you or these babies."
"I can do this without you Josh," Donna replied, "don't think I can't and never forget that."
Josh was silent for a minute as he thought about that. "I know--I have no doubt you could. You're a very strong and determined young woman, qualities I've always admired in you." His voice choked slightly and then he added, "but I hope you wouldn't want to."
"I don't," Donna replied, "I love you way too much."
"And I you," Josh promised. "From the first day I saw you probably. Or at least I can't any more remember a time when I didn't. Now all I want is for these babies to be born healthy and for us to be married--and I don't particularly care in what order." His fingers toyed with her ring and he kissed her gently. "Can you sleep now?"
Donna yawned and dropped off to sleep as way of reply.
"Ainsley I love you," he whispered, tears running down his cheeks as he attempted to pick her up into his arms but could not quite manage, settling for a long hug as the babies squirmed with the extra contact. "I love you and I hurt you and I'm sorry. So very sorry."
"Do you find me that unattractive already?" Ainsley whimpered.
"Oh Ainsley no. You had nothing to do with us going in there. We were together, we wanted a drink, and this place was open. It had nothing to do with wanting to see naked woman." His hand ran suggestively along her side as he spoke. "Honey if I want to see a beautiful naked woman, all I've got to do is slip this gown from you. And the best part of that, is this beautiful naked woman is the one I'm going to marry."
Ainsley blinked up at him, "Really? you really like me better?" She sniffled.
"Better than who?" Sam smiled and then scoffed, "those woman. Honey honest except to laugh a few times at their gyrations, I was simply having a drink with a couple friends." He stopped once they were in their room and with a quick tug of her gown, lifted it over her head, revealing her panties and sleep bra. "And you have everything on them, including my love."
Ainsley smiled and kissed him. "I love you Sam and I'm sorry I got so...emotional."
"Don't you dare apologize," he whispered. "And you look beautiful right now. Let's lay down. I just want to get out of the these smelly clothes and hold you please."
"I could do with some more sleep," Ainsley yawned and she curled up in the bed to wait for him.
"Five minutes," he promised and it wasn't that long before he was joining her, damp from the shower still, pressing his chest to her back and curling his arm over the babies. "I love you Ainsley. You're going to be my wife." He laughed and tickled her lightly. "Time to get used to that idea."
"I think I'm doing a good job of that." Ainsley smiled. She kissed him then. "Don't leave me," she said softly before sleep claimed her.
"Never in a million years," Sam whispered, his mouth to her ear, and it was in that position he also fell asleep.
Toby felt cold feet to his back and he rolled over to face CJ. "Hey, going home day. How do you feel? You ready to face DC again?"
"Most definitely," CJ smiled, "we get to start our life together, move our things into one townhouse, commute together and plan for a wedding, not to mention working on a baby." She got up, grabbed the menu and got back into bed. "Oh look, there's a jazz brunch at this place called Kabby's in the Hilton just up the street. Think we could convince the others to eat there? They have lamb, veal, roast beef, every seafood you could imagine also...let's see...omlets made to order, a dessert bar, bottomless champagne glasses, fresh fruit and live music. That's where I want to be."
"Works for me," Toby yelped. "Now all you have to do is figure out how we get the President there on short notice, and the rest of these lazy bums out of bed and moving. Let's see you herd them like you do the press." He folded his arms and sat back to watch.
CJ raised a brow, amused that he was challenging her. First she went to the President's door and knocked politly. It wasn't anything to sell Abbey on the idea. They cleared it with the restaurant to take the whole place over and then CJ began to go up and down the hall banging on doors. "Okay, we're going out to a very nice breakfast, get up and get dressed you have forty minutes exactly." She called at each door and soon movement could be heard behind all of them and she smiled at Toby before returning to their room and slipping into a navy suit for the day. Then she stood in the hall to hurry anyone along if she needed to.
"I don't remember leaving a wake up call for the middle of the night," Josh grumbled. "Some of us were in jail you know." Too late he realized CJ did not know the story of their early morning adventure.
Tucker meanwhile was wrapped around Chloe and not moving. "Tell them I died," he murmured as she struggled to get up from him.
"I'll do no such thing," Chloe replied, "you've had nine and a half hours. Come on." She kissed him.
"That's not going to get me moving," Tucker moaned. "But then the thought of breakfast is starting to."
"You did what?!" CJ exploded suddenly. "Just what exactly are you talking about Lyman?"
"I gotta see a man about a pony," Josh yelped, heading for the back of the gathering group. Sam laughed and took CJ's arm. "Hey we'll tell you all about it over a Belgian waffle," he promised.
"I'm not sure I wanted to hear this before breakfast," CJ sighed.
"We'll eat and be back on Air Force One and all will be right with the world," Sam promised. "And that's why we're telling you over breakfast, not before. While drinking a Bloody Mary preferably."
"Make it a double," Charlie piped up. "I have to tell the President."
"Tell me what?" Jed and Abbey picked that moment to join them.
"Your son-in-law, your deputy chief of staff and your deputy communications director got arrested during the night while in a strip club," Leo said as he arrived.
"You're all fired," Jed called with as straight a face as he could muster. "Even the son in law. Now what was so traumatic about that. Case closed. CJ handle the press. Let's eat."
Everyone was now perfectly frozen waiting for the President to laugh or say 'just kidding', even Abbey.
"OK OK, I can see I'm not going to get my lamb and mint jelly until this is settled. Josh, Sam, Charlie, front and center. Now, you were at a strip club--how could you do that? How could you up and leave in the middle of the night, go to one of these places.....and not invite me?"
Everyone once again looked shocked. "In their defense Mr. President, uh sir," Ainsley began shakily, stepping forward, "they went out for Lucky dogs for their pregnant fiances, well except for Charlie, sir, who went out for a Lucky dog for the First Lady. It is my understanding sir that while out they developed great thirst and were merely seeking something to drink."
"OK, I'm fine with that so far--considering they weren't doing anything illegal that I can discern. So how is it they were arrested? Joshua I'd like to hear from you on that score."
"Well it appears that there was some gambling without a permit going on in the back," Josh explained, "the whole place was raided and..." he sighed, "we didn't have IDs."
"Were you and Sam drawing to inside straights at this point?" Jed questioned. "And Charlie you were what, dealing blackjack for tips?"
"We were nowhere near the gambling," Sam interjected.
Abbey's stomach picked that moment to growl and lurch at the same time, and her arm shot out for Jed's shoulder. His arm went around her at once. "Abbey, hungry?"
"Jed...you know this look," Abbey said gently.
"Of course I do," Jed nodded, motioning with his hands. "Look let's go enjoy this lavish breakfast and then on the plane home I can hear all about this adventure, and CJ we'll help you get up a press statement. Starving first lady here people, let's move out.
Everyone began making for the limos and Abbey was thankful for Jed's guiding arm and how carefully he was watching her. She was incredibly hungry--probably reaching the weight gain stage she realized.
Josh stood hesitantly at the limo with Sam close behind. "Hey Sam when they're nine months are we going to get in first and haul them up or stay behind and push--my thought being maybe we should practice now."
Sam playfully pushed him aside and helped Ainsley into the vehicle. "I'd watch the size jokes if I were you buddy, you're probably still on the doo doo list from last night." Once he made sure Ainsley was seated he turned to Donna, "allow me Ms. Moss, and while you're at it, you might want to re-think that ring you're wearing."
"You're a dead man Seaborn," Josh growled, removing his hand from Donna's arm. Donna and Ainsley exchanged the 'children' look.
"Look can we all just get in the cars?" Toby grumbled. CJ was keeping her distance as they stood there avaliable to the press.
"No one is asking about us so far," Josh whispered to CJ, hurrying in and helping Donna get seated. "Look I can't speak for Sam and Charlie, but we did nothing wrong. I don't have a problem with making the statement to the press myself about what happened."
"Okay everyone, the flashbulbs are bad for the baby, please leave the first daughter alone," CJ called out walking over and making a barrier between herself and Zoey with baby Charles in her arms. She hurried them into the car with the President and First Lady.
"Thanks CJ," Charlie smiled. "I still have a hard time doing that. I'm afraid I'll get too protective and then rude."
Charlie helped settle Zoey and they were off.
"Hey look we're going to drive by the site of last night's wondermous experience," Josh pointed out and then playfully covered Sam's eyes.
"I suppose I should be thankful I got to sleep through it last night," CJ sighed. "I'm sure it's going to be a delight explaining it to the press." She was cuddled up against Toby.
"I have to agree with the President," Toby teased. "No one told me we were going out for a drink in a strip club. But I suppose it could have been worse--you might have had Tucker with you, and then you'd be contributing to the delinquincy. And CJ, even you couldn't have gotten them out of that."
CJ shook her head, "Don't even think it. That would be a terrible mess. Ainsley and Donna would be upset and distraught over Josh and Sam. Chloe would be totally out of it over Tucker. Caroline would be upset for her daughter. Leo would be upset over his wife's discomfort as well as Chloe's. The President would be upset for everyone and I would be totally stressed out."
"And you don't need that after all you've been through," Toby said seriously. "Change of subject, because that will blow over like any other. Did you guys know CJ and I are going to Paris next week. It's an unofficial official visit. Talking to the foreign minister but mostly looking at gowns."
Donna and Ainsley exchanged glances and Donna's hand fell at once to the baby mound as she thought of her own wedding and what she wanted. "Hey having your name be Lyman isn't going to make me love you or those babies any more," Josh whispered.
"I know," Donna sighed but I want the name on my Id bracelet to match theirs and I want my OB to call me Mrs. Lyman and...and I don't want anyone thinking I'm a slut!"
"Yeah I'm sure that's going to the be the first thing on the mind of the admitting clerk," Josh groaned. "And you know I'd marry you right now if that's what you wanted. Hell I'd marry you on Air Force one going home if it was legal. Anyway, Sam and I just wanted to tell both you and Ainsley that we're going to have some designer sketches brought in and we want both of you to pick what you want. Pregnant women get married in lavish ceremonies all the time. No reason not to have a beautiful gown, with or without...well...belly emphasis."
Donna smiled, "That's what I want, and soon before I get any bigger!" "I want to wait," Ainsley said softly, "I mean I can have the babies declared Seaborns anyhow married or not and I want to get married in front of my family as I'd always intended, with a flat stomach."
Sam grinned and hugged her. "And so you shall, with our babies watching from the safety of their godparents arms." He looked up at Josh and Donna. "That's you two by the way, please. I know we haven't asked you before now, but Ains and I have talked about it. Would you?"
"Oh Sam I'd love to," Donna said and seeing the same endearing expression of honor on Josh's face she amended, "We'd love to. That's such an honor!"
"Of course we want to," Josh agreed quickly, "and Donna's right. We are honored." He swallowed hard and looked to Donna before continuing. "And that brings up something else, which we don't have to decide on today, but I know none of us has much family. What if we four agreed that if anything happened to me and Donna together, or to you two together, that we would each take the other's babies to raise with our own?" He paused and added quickly. "I know that's kind of maudlin, but sometimes, well since the shooting, and now with my surgery, I think about those things. Hell when I was in the ambulance, when I wasn't screaming like a baby that is--all I could think of was dear god let me live long enough to tell Donna how much I love her."
Everyone sombered completely. They all were lost in their thoughts when the limos arrived and they were escorted through a special entrance to the now closed off restaurant. It was beautiful with full length glass on one whole side looking out over the river. The Jazz musicians even played a jazzed up version of Ruffles and Flourishes as the President arrived. Everyone took their seats and they could see the hotel guests trying to get a glimpse from far away at the entrance.
"This is incredible," Tucker breathed, keeping Chloe close beside him. "Totally incredible. "I can't believe CJ arranged it on such short notice too. Wow."
Chefs in tall white hats stood ready to prepare to order and the food smelled wonderful. Jed tapped his glass for attention. "CJ my compliments to you and for our last activity before we head on back. Everyone let's enjoy, but you're going to have to indulge me a moment, and no I don't mean a speech, just this. Father in heaven, bless this food and this company, and give us safe journey home." There was a chorus of amen, and Jed took Abbey's hand. "First Lady first please, and then our other expectant mothers maybe."
Everyone fell in, in polite order, letting the pregnant women go first and then the other women before the men. Soon everyone was seated and enjoying their meals. "You know I was thinking Toby," CJ began, "what if I unpacked at your townhouse...or what if you unpacked at mine."
Toby gave her a quick frown as if she was stating the obvious. "Well I'm not going to let you just go off alone if that's what you're getting at. And your place is better suited for both of us. It's larger and has the extra room." He paused and kissed her cheek, "for the baby that is."
CJ blushed, he may not know it but Toby was changing her life and she was falling more in love with him than ever.
"We're going to be fine, you and me," he said softly. "I have no doubt at all. In fact for the first time in forever, I have no doubts about anything. Life is good."
It was a stuffed and groaning group of senior staff who finished brunch as the jazz band struck up dance music. "OK, I want to see everyone working off that food," Jed commanded, "but there's a catch. For the first entire number, everyone has to be with a partner not of their own; like...." He smiled and walked down the long table to Chloe. "Chloe Murphy, may I have this dance?"
Chloe looked like a deer in headlights for a moment before, like her elegant mother she extended her hand and replied, "it would be an honor." Then she took to the floor with him. Leo took his turn then and walked down to Ainsley, "may I have this dance? with your fiance's permission of course." He smiled to Sam. Meanwhile Toby approached Donna and scratched his head in that nervous Zeigler fashion that was uniquely his. "You wanna dance?" he asked Donna in a squirmish fashion that was rather endearing.
"Mr. Ziegler it would be an honor," Donna smiled, putting her hand in his, and Josh immediately stood as well to help her up before walking up to CJ. "This feels like wife swapping here, but I'd love to have this dance."
"Okay, just don't get near any large bodies of water, I'm warning you," CJ teased.
"In that case let's dance away from the fountain," Josh grinned, "and let's make sure there's daylight between us. Toby trouble I don't need. I'm in enough already."
Tucker swallowed hard three times and then with his courage intact, he approached Abbey. "Ma'am, would you like to dance, since your husband and my fiancee are enjoying themselves. I won't step on you I promise."
Abbey smiled at him, "Tucker I won't bite. When we're together like this I'm just plain Mrs. Bartlet and yes I'd love to dance with a fine gentleman like yourself." She took to Tucker's arms and Abbey was a wonderful and graceful dancer.
Charlie meanwhile looked to Caroline as Sam held his hand to Zoey. "Ma'am we're all that's left, but I'm not objecting. May I?"
Zoey smiled, "Charmed Sam," she laughed and joined him on the floor. Caroline danced with Charlie. "You dance very well Charlie, no wonder you and Zoey always look so good together."
"Charlie, Zoey and I are engaged," Sam called laughing before Charlie could answer.
"Thank you ma'am," he finally said to Caroline. "I took a class in school. There was a girl I wanted to impress."
"Did it work?" Caroline asked conversationally. Meanwhile Zoey intentionally stepped on Sam's foot.
Charlie nodded slowly. "Yeah. We were together for my whole senior year in fact. And then she suddenly wasn't there any more. I think she went to live with her grandmother in New Jersey--at least that's what one of her girlfriend's said, but she didn't answer my letters. Good grief I hadn't thought about her in a long time-that would have been four years ago now."
"Good lord woman you wearing spike heels?" Sam yelped, hobbling a few steps in teasing.
"Serves you right," Zoey teased back with a smile.
"Why do you think she left?" Caroline asked, now very interested in the story.
"I'm afraid she was pregnant," Charlie whispered. "I never did find out for real, but I'm afraid she went up there to live and give the baby a better life than her family in D.C. could give them."
Caroline looked sad and then hesitant. "This baby..." she looked at Charlie not knowing how to ask the rest of such a question.
"Oh hey no ma'am," Charlie grinned. "Zoey was my first and only. She was seeing another guy, which she eventually told me and her and I became more friends than anything else."
"Ah," Caroline smiled, "you know if you'd like to know where she is I bet Leo could find out for her, maybe you could write her or maybe it would just give you some closure.
"Yeah I'd love to know she's OK," Charlie smiled. "Thank you ma'am, thank you very much."
The music stopped and the President bowed to Chloe. "You're a beautiful young lady my dear, and in a few days I'm going to make you and Tucker Mr. and Mrs. Seaborn. And I'm going to be very proud to do it."
Chloe smiled, "Thank-you Uncle Jed, coming from you that means a lot and not just because you're the President. I want very much to marry Tucker and start a life with him."
"I know you do," Jed said seriously, "I know you do. He loves you so much. It's in his voice, in his eyes and in the fact that he can't keep his hands from you. You're both very lucky. I met a woman like that once, fell in love and married her. And in a few months she's going to give me another child, maybe a son."
Chloe smiled, "I hope so sir, he can grow up running around the White House." She smiled, "You can name him Josiah Daniel Bartlet Jr."
"And call him JD," Jed grinned, "or JJ for Jed junior." He smiled and kissed her forehead. "Chloe soon to be Seaborn you are a beautiful young woman. Tucker should be on his knees every night giving thanks."
"Yes sir," Tucker grinned, coming to take his almost-bride. "This Seaborn knows when to be grateful." His gaze fell on his brother who was just retrieving his own fiancee, "but then I guess the other one does too."
"Ainsley's so pretty," Chloe smiled, "and she'll be like practically my sister."
"If I was single and twenty years younger," Jed grinned.
"She wouldn't give you the time of day," Abbey laughed and poked his arm, having overheard the conversation. "Jed you know I'm the only woman who'd put up with you and it's been that way since I was fifteen."
"There you are," Toby finally found CJ. "I thought maybe you'd decided you liked the other Jewish gentleman in the crowd better."
"About time to go back," Leo called, tapping his watch. "We do have a life in D.C. remember."
"Lyman?" CJ raised a brow, "he just caused me a huge press scandal and I'm going to like him better?" She kissed Toby quickly. Soon everyone made for the limos and they headed to the airport and Air Force one.